“The problems this country faces are generational,” said Michael McDonald, professor of political science at the University of Florida. He said the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, coupled with increased political engagement since Mr. Trump was elected, had produced a very energetic electorate.
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“We wish we could care about other things in our lives, but right now politics matters so much and people are engaged,” he said. generate such interest from voters, and early participation can sometimes be delayed for reasons ranging from different start dates to hurricane disruption.
But amid the rising turnout, concern grows about the yawning gap between the mail-in ballots that have been requested and those that have been returned. Within days of the end, 36 million ballots that were requested have not been returned or have been rejected. Many of these ballots could still be mailed or being processed or have been sent to people who now plan to vote in person.
Any problem with early voting is also likely to affect Democrats more than Republicans. In almost every state, Democrats have requested mail-in votes at a higher rate than Republicans. In Pennsylvania, nearly two million registered Democrats have requested postal votes, compared to less than 790,000 Republicans. And while 70% of those Democratic voters have returned their ballots, approximately 590,000 ballots sent to registered Democratic voters have yet to be returned, along with 360,000 ballots sent to registered Republicans.
Voters in Pennsylvania, one of the most important battleground states, have been increasingly baffled by the wave of disputes over the deadline for accepting ballots. The Supreme Court has left open the possibility of a future ruling on ballots that are postmarked on election day but arrive late, and the secretary of state has told all county election officials to separate those ballots. .
Concerns about the US Postal Service added to the anxiety. The agency said in a file that staffing issues resulting from the pandemic were causing problems at some facilities, including some in central Pennsylvania. Only 78 percent of employees are available, according to the filing.