As noted yesterday, early and absentee voting are popular options this election and nearly 33 million ballots have already been cast according to the United States Election Project. And of course there are several days, often the busiest days, of early and absentee voting remaining before November 8. Looking at data from recent elections, this year could see the largest share of ballots ever cast before Election Day.
Data from our Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS), which is collected directly from the states, shows in 2008 and 2012 a little more than 40 million ballots were cast prior to Election Day in each year, in each case nearly a third of all ballots cast.
While the EAVS data are not perfect - data are missing or incomplete in some jurisdictions - since the survey was first issued in 2004, completeness rates have generally improved (for more details see the methodology and data completeness rates in our survey reports). And these numbers are similar to other reports of early and absentee voting rates, such as the U.S. Census.
This popularity is not entirely surprising as more states are offering voters opportunities to vote early in person and cast absentee ballots without providing an excuse. For example in 2010 Maryland began offering early voting, in 2013 Colorado started mailing ballots to all registered voters, and in 2014 Minnesota began allowing voters to cast absentee ballots with no excuse.
In the coming months after the election, states will begin responding to the 2016 EAVS which will provide final data about early and absentee voting, as well as plenty of other election administration data. Stay tuned for updates in 2017!