Will the Vote Be Legitimate?

The 2020 election has been underway for about a month and a half now—early voting in states like Michigan, Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Minnesota began in late September—but all ballots must be cast (or postmarked) by tomorrow. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March, experts have cautioned that voting will look different this year, and indeed it has.

Around the country, state election officials and legislatures have amended their voter registration deadlines, and—to protect voters from crowded polling places on Election Day—expanded access to early, absentee, and mail-in balloting. The CARES Act appropriated hundreds of millions of dollars toward helping states and localities prepare to hold elections amid a pandemic. Dozens upon dozens of lawsuits have challenged—or sought to clarify—these changes, and countless entities have combined to launch the most comprehensive voter education effort in American history.

The result? Voter enthusiasm that appears on pace to smash 2016’s record raw-vote total. An astounding 93 million votes have already been cast according to the U.S. Elections Project—nearly 68 percent of the total votes counted in 2016—with Election Day itself still to come. Battleground states Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina are close to matching their vote totals from four years ago, and Texas has already surpassed its 2016 tally.

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