With six weeks until Election Day, more than 61.4 million absentee ballots have already been requested by or sent to voters in 28 states and the District of Columbia for the general election, a New York Times analysis found.
The data offers yet another indication that the number of Americans who plan to vote early or by mail this year will set records.
Concerns that the coronavirus could spread at polling places provoked a huge shift to mail-in ballots this year. Many states have expanded their absentee voting eligibility rules, and requests for absentee ballots have already surpassed total 2016 requests in at least 11 states.
The pandemic has also altered the voter registration process, cutting opportunities for in-person events. On Tuesday, as groups around the country participated in National Voter Registration Day, a mass effort to register voters before the Nov. 3 election, many — though not all — of their efforts moved to online campaigns.
Although deadlines vary, many states allow voters to request mail ballots less than two weeks before Election Day. The Postal Service has recommended that voters request them by Oct. 19 to ensure that ballots are returned on time. Early voting has also started in a handful of states this month.