Early Voting Trends Nationwide

By: CNN
By: CNN

October 31, 2008

As of Halloween, millions of Americans have already cast their ballots.
And we're getting some possible clues about how the race may be going.

You hear both Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama urging supporters to vote early. So far, some 17 million people in more than thirty states have already voted, either in person or by mail.

Paul Gronke, Executive Director of the Early Voting Information Center at Reed University says, " The levels are really shocking. They've broken records in virtually every state or jurisdiction that has early voting."

Of the early vote states--political watchers say Florida and North Carolina remain unpredictable. Both states track a voter's party--not, of course, the actual vote. So getting a clear read is impossible. Still, new trends are emerging, say two election experts in North Carolina.

Michael McDonald of the U.S. Elections Project says, "We're seeing African Americans, which is unusual because they generally turn out Election Day, not early voting."

As a result of North Carolina election laws, 100,000 people not previously on the voter rolls have been able to register and vote the same day.

In Florida, the experts say they are seeing a difference in early voting patterns between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats go to the polls---while early mail-in ballots have leaned more heavily Republican.

Michael McDonald says, "We're seeing similar patterns - 2 to 1 democrat advantage in person, but republicans hold their own in mail 3 to 2."

And in case you're wondering why campaigns have been urging people to vote early, Paul Gronke says, "You don't want it to be 2 days before the election and you are still trying to get your base out. You got to be focused on those undecideds- those independents."


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