Less than a third of U.S. voters say they will cast their ballots in person on Election Day, the lowest percentage in American history, a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows. Nearly two-thirds plan to vote early — or have already voted.
According to the survey of 1,583 registered voters conducted Oct. 16-18, just 31 percent of respondents said they plan to vote in person on Nov. 3 — about half the number who voted in person four years ago — while 42 percent planned to vote by mail or had already, and 22 percent planned to vote in person before Nov. 3 or had already done so.
More than 35 million votes have already been cast, or more than a quarter of the 136 million Americans who voted in the presidential election in 2016.
Of those voting by mail, nearly half (48 percent) said they are doing so to avoid possible exposure to COVID-19, including 58 percent of mail-in voters for Joe Biden and 26 percent of President Trump’s voters using mail-in ballots. Almost the same percentage (46 percent) of mail-in voters cite convenience as the reason.
Fears of voter suppression or intimidation at the polls were rarely cited as a reason for voting by mail.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of voters casting ballots in person on Election Day versus alternative means has been on the decline since 1996, when 89.5 percent of all voters did so. In 2016, 59.9 percent cast in-person ballots on Election Day.
Trump’s attacks on mail-in voting, as well as his recruitment of an “army” of poll watchers, has stoked fears among Democrats and some election officials of voter intimidation.
Overall, 64 percent of respondents had voted or planned to vote early, either through the mail or in person. Among the latter group, the most common motivation was to avoid crowds (58 percent), while half (50 percent) cited fears of voter suppression.
Of those who are waiting to vote on Nov. 3, nearly 7 in 10 (68 percent) say they “like the tradition of voting in person,” including 73 percent of Trump Election Day voters and 51 percent of Biden supporters casting in-person Election Day ballots.
And it appears the president’s baseless predictions of widespread voter fraud have played a role in motivating some voters to cast their votes in person. According to the poll, 35 percent believe there is too much fraud with mail-in voting, including 45 percent of Trump voters and 13 percent of Biden voters.
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