Wed, 10/14/2020 – 22:45
With less than three weeks until Election Day, many states are already seeing historic levels of early voting.
According to figures from 35 states and the District of Columbia, compiled by the Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal, 8.8 million people have voted by mail in the general election and 962,000 have headed to polling places early to cast ballots. For comparison, more than 58 million early ballots were cast in 2016.
Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Virginia have already received more early ballots than they did in the 2016 presidential election. Several other states have topped 2016 numbers for mail-in ballots returned, even as in-person early voting is opening up in much of the country.
Counting the Votes: The unprecedented influx of early balloting, in person and especially by mail, is presenting a logistical challenge for local election officials. How they handle it is likely to figure in whether voters will see a protracted wait for results beyond Election Day in the presidential race, especially from closely fought battleground states.
Election officials are already talking about “Election Week” rather than “Election Day.” They are also urging voters to view lengthy counts in close contests as normal.
States have raced to ramp up, buying extra machines to tabulate votes, adding extra staff to count ballots, and in some cases, extending deadlines. Those rule changes are setting off partisan court battles in key states that will determine which votes count and are adding uncertainty as voters cast ballots in droves.
Hinging on the Swing States: The pace of early voting is poised to increase in the weeks leading up to Nov. 3, as deadlines begin to approach.
In Florida, where polling shows a tight race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, about 1.7 million mail-in ballots have been cast, more than 60 percent of those received in 2016. Floridians can request absentee ballots until Oct. 24. North Carolina, another presidential battleground and host to a competitive Senate race, received more mail-in votes by September than it saw for all of the 2016 general election. Advance polling sites in the state are open from Oct. 15 to 31.
In both North Carolina and Florida, registered Democrats have cast more ballots than registered Republicans so far. In North Carolina, independent voters have also cast more early ballots than registered Republicans.
Mail-In Impact: Several battleground states are also seeing large numbers of requests for mail-in ballots. This could make for a long election night (hence, “Election Week”) in states that prohibit the counting or processing of ballots before Nov. 3.
For example, Michigan doesn’t begin tabulating mail-in ballots until 7 a.m. on Election Day. With a projected count of 3 million of the 5-5.5 million votes cast before Nov. 3, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has said that her office could announce results as late as the following Friday.
Similar is true in Wisconsin, which also starts counting on Election Day and where election officials have received 683,000 of the 1.3 million ballots requested. In 2016, 826,000 people voted early either through the mail or in-person, in total. Polling places for early voting open Oct. 20 in Wisconsin.
So far, at least 11 states have already reached or exceeded 50 percent of their total early vote in 2016. Four have surpassed those levels.
Wisdom of the Crowd: While ballots pour in, court battles are determining issues of how people vote and whether certain ballots are disqualified. How those cases turn could impact who wins and loses in 2020.
Despite the whiff of uncertainty in the political air, traders expect Florida, Pennsylvania and the overall election outcome to all be called on Election Day, albeit with varying degrees of certainty.
In Florida, an outcome on Nov. 3 is trading at 63¢ and Nov. 4 at just 18¢. Pennsylvania, much like the presidential election outcome, has traders zeroed in on Nov. 3 at 33¢ and Nov. 4 at 24¢, but an outcome after Dec. 14 is third at 10¢. The overall race is trading at 38¢ to 32¢ for a Nov. 3 outcome over a Nov. 4 call and after Dec. 14 is trading at 12¢.
Biden’s strong lead in the polls and the markets (i.e. he still holds a 27¢ lead over Trump in the 2020 US presidential winner market) could be contributing to traders expecting a media call on or the day after Election Day.
Will that sentiment hold as we grow closer to Nov. 3?
Go to Source
Author: Tyler Durden