Election 2022: Early voting skyrockets, Democrats in the lead
People wait in line to vote early at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta on Monday. | Brynn Anderson/AP

WASHINGTON–Despite the voter suppression efforts of former Oval Office occupant Donald Trump and his anti-voting fanatics, Americans from coast to coast are apparently turning out in record numbers for early voting. The big leads Democratic voters have in the numbers of those turning out show that, contrary to what Republican pollsters would have us believe, a victory of the forces of progress, depending upon turnout, is quite possible next week.

Democrats and pro-worker candidates seem to be favored so far. For example, as of October 27, Pennsylvania election boards had received almost four times as many early ballots—531,430 total—from registered Democrats than they received from registered Republicans, 143,334. But registration numbers, however, can differ from actual votes.

When it comes to the huge early voting numbers, University of Florida political scientist Michael McDonald told National Public Radio the nation was heading towards early voting as a rule. “2020 just turned everything around,” as early voting became the norm due to the coronavirus pandemic.

So far almost 25 million people nationwide have cast ballots early, either by mail, by visiting early voting centers, or through drop boxes. In his book on the 2020 balloting, McDonald reported 70% of all votes were cast before Election Day.

Unions and their allies are encouraging early voting, and in many cases actively aiding people who want to cast their ballots without having to stand in lines on Election Day.

“So much is at stake,” the Office and Professional Employees declared. “Anti-worker politicians are fighting tooth and nail to retake Congress, but working people are pushing back at the ballot box.”

“The 2022 midterms are our chance to send a clear message that we’re not going back to slashed budgets and harmful policies that leave too many students behind,” the National Education Association, the nation’s largest union, declared.

NEA posted a YouTube video on steps members can take to ensure they vote and that their votes are counted—including a segment on how to vote early.

Still, the high numbers encouraged the Service Employees, which is concentrating on getting early votes from workers of color and their families.

New citizens heading to the polls

“In states across the country new Americans are already heading to the polls,” SEIU tweeted. “Our members have been on the ground alongside other groups in states like Pennsylvania to ensure these new citizens can vote without obstacle or exclusion. To the polls!”

The catch, of course, is that party registration does not ordinarily line up with the real choices voters make, contest by contest. Still the early turnout numbers are impressive, and not just in Pennsylvania.

Georgia reported early voting as of October 27 was running ahead of the 2018 totals. By now a million have voted, far more than in 2018.

By October 31, several news stories said almost one million Georgians had cast early ballots. That almost equals the entire total for 2020, a presidential year, when far more people vote than in off-years such as 2018 and 2022. Including absentees and mail-ins, 4.99 million Georgians voted in the 2020 race between Democrat Joe Biden and Trump.

The most telling statistics of hope for progressives in Georgia was that 17% of the new early voters didn’t vote at all in 2018, and that early voting boomed in Atlanta and its suburbs—despite the GOP-run Georgia legislature’s voting restrictions.

The North Carolina Board of Elections reported that as of October 27, mail-in and early voting had increased by 20%, to nearly 187,000 voters, in the Tar Heel State, compared to 2018 (155,200). And 208,000 voters had requested absentee ballots in 2022.

In addition, the Charlotte Observer reported a 60,000-person increase in early voters, compared to 2018, in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, the state’s largest metro area.

Early voting data from The Arizona Republic

The Washington Post reported that by mid-October, 411,000 Virginians had voted early, more than did so in the entire 2018 election. The Texan reported that on October 24, the first day of early voting in Texas, 576,716 people voted. Three-quarters were walk-ins.

That’s one of every 33 Texans registered to vote, in a state whose voting rolls grew by 716,000 people in two years. The biggest numerical registration increases were in Democratic leaning counties such as Harris (Houston) and Bexar (San Antonio).

And in Arizona, site of Trumpite intimidation—armed “monitors” at drop boxes—the early turnout has been enormous. The Arizona Republic reported that as of 5 p.m. on October 29, some 190,000 registered Democrats, 160,000 registered Republicans and more than 110,000 “others” had returned their absentee ballots.

The large increases in early voting aren’t confined to the South or to big cities and states. Just look at one smaller city: Beloit, Wis.

The Beloit (Wis.) Daily News  reported on October 30 that city officials received 2,200 absentee ballot requests, and have received 1,350 ballots—more than 60%–back so far. By comparison, 1,300 Beloit voters cast absentee ballots in 2018.

Now, that’s a high turnout.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but a holy terror when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners. El galardonado periodista Mark Gruenberg es el director de la oficina de People's World en Washington, D.C. También es editor del servicio de noticias sindicales Press Associates Inc. (PAI).