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US early vote total crosses 50 million, signaling a record-smashing turnout
[WASHINGTON] More than 50 million Americans have cast ballots in the presidential election, an early-voting expert said on Friday, signaling a potential record turnout out for a Nov 3 matchup between President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden.
According to Michael McDonald of the University of Florida's Elections Project, at least 50.95 million people had cast ballots in person or by mail 11 days before Election Day.
That is roughly one-third of the 150 million-plus ballots that Mr McDonald and other experts predict could be cast this year.
Some 137 million ballots were cast in the 2016 election.
The massive early-vote total gives the Republican Trump less leeway to change minds before voting concludes. Opinion polls show him trailing Mr Biden, a Democrat, both nationally and in several battleground states that will decide who sits in the White House on Jan 20, 2021.
Mr Trump and Mr Biden met for their second and final debate on Thursday night. Analysts gave Mr Trump credit for a relatively restrained performance, but said it probably did not fundamentally change the dynamics of the race.
Mr Trump, 74, will hold two rallies in the battleground state of Florida, where opinion polls show a tight race. Mr Biden, 77, will deliver a speech in his home state of Delaware on his plans for leading a recovery from the pandemic.
Mr Trump has frequently assailed absentee voting as unreliable, and his campaign has fought states' efforts to expand a practice that analysts say is as secure as any other method.
Mr Trump himself has voted by mail in past elections, but plans to vote in person in Florida on Saturday, the White House said.
Vice President Mike Pence cast his early-vote ballot in Indianapolis on Friday morning.
Democrats have cast roughly 5 million more votes than Republicans so far, though their margin has shrunk in recent days, according to TargetSmart, a Democratic analytics firm.
The pandemic has upended campaign traditions. Americans may find themselves waiting days or weeks to know who won as election officials count tens of millions of mail-in votes.