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Democrats Have Early Voting Edge, Despite GOP Voter Suppression Tactics

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Democrats Have Early Voting Edge, Despite GOP Voter Suppression Tactics

Minority voters

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet. 

Across the country, 34 million people have already voted, breaking early voting records in many battleground states with Democratic turnout generally outpacing Republicans, according to election officials’ most recent tallies.

While that high voter turnout pattern appears to favor Hillary Clinton, state-level voter suppression tactics from Republicans and local intimidation antics by Donald Trump supporters are still unfolding, adding angst and muddying the election’s last phase.

But the bigger picture is that voters are turning out in record numbers, according to a new set of campaign metrics—actual voter data from millions of people, not polling hundreds or a thousand or more people at a time—and the early voting patterns appear to favor Democrats. This is also what pollsters like Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com, who run thousands of voting simulations have been saying, although their projections are more cautious following the FBI’s new interest in Clinton emails.

As Michael McDonald, the founder of the United States Election Project, which compiles voter turnout data on a daily basis from states, tweeted Thursday, “Why record early vote numbers in many states: people have made up their minds & are voting.” He continued, “If 2014 is a guide… Reps need about +7 points [higher turnout] to be competitive. Dems going to pick up this weekend.”

These trends—high early voting turnout, a well-organized Democratic Party operation and some Republican chicanery—can be seen in Florida, one of 37 states with early voting, where turnout is setting records.

“Over 1.1 Million Floridians have Already Voted Early, Including 412k who were Registered but Skipped the 2012 GE [General Election]” Daniel Smith, a Florida-based political scientist and voter turnout analyst, tweeted and blogged Thursday. That rising wave of voters does not tell you who is ahead, but a recent poll of 718 Floridians found more than a quarter of Republicans said they were voting for Clinton. Smith also reported that more Floridian women than men were voting early, which was seen as helping Clinton.

These different data sets underscore why Democrats are aggressively campaigning in Florida and explain some of the bad behavior by Republicans there. On Wednesday in West Palm Beach, Trump supporters used bullhorns to target and scream at Clinton backers waiting in line to vote, ProPublica.org reported. That didn’t stop them from voting, but it is a sign of the times.

“The county decided that they are going to now place police officers at polling locations throughout the county to counteract hecklers—basically their concern is safety,” Jeralyn Cave, a spokeswoman for Advancement Project, a voting rights group, said Thursday.

As Tuesday’s election day approaches, the news will be filled with turnout reports, projections of who’s ahead and behind, court rulings on restrictive new voting laws and unnecessary voter purges, and Republican voter suppression threats and actions. To sense what is really happening, it’s important to separate developments affecting large numbers of people from ones that are hyped or very localized.

There was another striking example of hyped voter suppression versus the realities on the ground Thursday, when a federal judge shut down a legal effort by Pennsylvania Republicans to allow people who do not live locally to be polling place observers. Not only has Trump called for supporters to police the polls—to deter or intimidate new and non-white voters—but as Politico reported, an array of white supremacist groups are boasting of plans to thwart voters and film what they claim will be voter fraud. Incredibly, they said they would give away pot and hard liquor in Philadelphia to keep non-whites away, and bragged that “any official-looking white person with a clipboard” could walk into polls and plant hidden cameras, which is what they say they’ll do.

While that inflammatory storyline grabbed headlines, U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Pappert threw out the GOP’s lawsuit challenging the local residency requirement for poll watchers. He did not mince words, saying the Republican posturing about exercising free speech and protecting election integrity were nonsense. “There was no need for this judicial fire drill and Plaintiffs offer no reasonable explanation or justification,” Pappert wrote.

Unfortunately, in other swing states like Ohio, Republicans and Trump’s campaign are making the same legal arguments to empower poll watchers. But unlike the Clinton campaign and Democrats, which have been busily organizing and executing get-out-the-vote operations for months, Trump and the Republicans do not have an extensive ground game. The result, seen in many battleground states, is that larger numbers of Democrats are voting early.

By midday Thursday, more than 34 million people had voted nationwide via mail-in ballots and in-person voting, reported the United States Election Project, which compiles figures from election officials and whose Twitter updates provide a realtime state-by-state recitation of the latest real voter behavior.

Take Nevada, a western swing state: “CRUSHING Win for Dems in Clark today!! 16.0k Ds, 11.2k Rs, total 36.0k. Dems win by almost 4800!!!,” tweetedSorcerer43, referring to the votes cast in the county where Las Vegas is located and where Clinton held a rally on Wednesday. “Not surprising. Dems know how to couple campaign rallies with GOTV,” replied the Election Project’s McDonald.

Consider the latest from Ohio. After posting a graph showing how early voting in the Ohio counties that are home to Columbus and Cleveland has almost reached 2012 levels, McDonald commented, “Why the Clinton campaign has not given up on Ohio. Finally making move despite terrible start (some caused by state).” That reference concerns a decision by the Ohio secretary of state not to mail out absentee ballots to a million people who haven’t voted since the last presidential election. (In Florida, officials are reporting many of those infrequent voters are voting early.)

Early voting results are also finding that Arizona has seen the largest increase in voting by Latinos in any state. In North Carolina, 300,000 more women than men have voted, out of 2.3 million votes cast so far.

There is an ebb and flow here that changes daily. Republican early voting was gaining on Democrats in Colorado, although more Democrats have voted, McDonald reported.

Nobody know what will happen until all the votes are counted, which will likely be from more than 130 million people in the 2016 election. But these high early voting figures, with some swing states setting turnout records, is another indication of big electoral trends. They seem to be confirming that the Democratic get-out-the-vote effort is doing its intended job, as higher turnouts do not favor Republicans.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s retirement crisis, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of “Count My Vote: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting” (AlterNet Books, 2008).

IMAGE: Voters cast ballots during early voting at the Franklin County Board of Elections in Columbus, Ohio U.S., October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton



  1. Box November 4, 2016

    Well the fix is in.

    DOJ is right now not allowing NYPD to arrest Wiener, and Valerie Jarrett is trying to force Obama to fire Comey. But, read the article below, Obama believes civil unrest would ensue and thats what the history books will write. He doesnt want to go down that way, he says.


    If Wiener is arrested, then Huma, Hillary would be the third arrest. It would have to be like that so DOJ is trying to block the first arrest. If they can get rid of Comey and put someone like Donna Brazile (currently unemployed and available) as Director, they will shred the case work and its all over. Americans will never know the truth. JFK, 911, Emailgate. We are used to lies, suppression, secrets. We love them!

    See this interview, start the vid at 13:50 and it explains about Comey’s current motivation Then the article links will make sense.

    1. I Am Helpy November 4, 2016

      OK thanks for the dumb conspiracy theory. Sorry your awful candidate is losing!

      1. CrankyToo November 5, 2016

        That’s a lie, Helpy! You’re not sorry at all.

        1. I Am Helpy November 5, 2016

          I can’t believe someone saw through that!

          1. Rojo Knit November 8, 2016

            Breaking news TRUMP is projected a landslide win by CNN. Also democrats can call 1-800-657-4545 for information to text their ballots in.

          2. I Am Helpy November 8, 2016

            Push off Putin

          3. Rojo Knit November 8, 2016

            Honest. Try it if you can’t get through. Try first thing in the morning. Your vote will still be counted.

          4. I Am Helpy November 8, 2016

            Sorry you think this is funny, KKKomrade.

      2. Rojo Knit November 8, 2016

        Losing. Breaking news in California. San Diego County exiting polls. Trump project landslide victory in Southern California. Honest.

        1. I Am Helpy November 8, 2016

          I hope your children grow up to be exactly like you.

          1. Rojo Knit November 8, 2016

            They have all four voted Trump, including 14 grandchildren voted Trump, and one out of nine great-grandchildren again Trump. Did my job to make your life miserable at least for four years.

          2. I Am Helpy November 8, 2016

            OK it’s not a surprise that you want other people to be miserable – you are, after all, a neo-Nazi.

            Sorry that your kids are going to recycle you for spare parts!

    2. CrankyToo November 5, 2016

      Hey Dipstick! Do yourself a favor… switch off Fox Noise, delete Red Flag and Breitbart from your “favorites” list, grab both ears and yank that cube out of your a$$.

      Welcome back to the real world.

      1. Rojo Knit November 6, 2016

        Breaking news turn on MSNBC Trump leads in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida by 10 points.

        1. CrankyToo November 7, 2016

          Pi$$ off, Robo Nut.

          1. Rojo Knit November 7, 2016

            Yea if I was a democrat and got that news I would be probably saying the same thing. Check out MSNBC all over their news network. Sorry you lose.

          2. CrankyToo November 7, 2016

            You’re right about one thing: you’re sorry.

          3. Rojo Knit November 8, 2016

            Breaking news. Exit polls in believe it or not the blue state of California. Seventy-five percent voting TRUMP. New Hampshire is now 90%. There is a GOD and CRANKYTOO blahs on and on. Oh by the way this deplorable at least isn’t one who has educated themselves to stupid.

      2. Rojo Knit November 8, 2016

        Oh is their another TV or network station? I should have know your a Rachel Maddox fan she’s on ah..ah…ah…wait a minute it’s ah…ah well ah. Come on someone help me out.

    3. Sand_Cat November 6, 2016

      Yes, the “fix” is in. Most smart and decent people reject the idiotic platform you and your buddies support.

  2. darlene.bernier November 4, 2016

    One yr ago I left my old job and I never felt this good… I started freelancing online, for a company I found on-line, few hrs every day, and I earn much more than i did on my last job… Last pay-check i got was for 9000 dollars… Amazing thing about this work is that now i have more free time for my kids… http://korta.nu/MDe

  3. Dominick Vila November 5, 2016

    Democrats, especially women and Hispanics, are voting in large numbers in Florida and North Carolina, where votes cast based on voter registration give Hillary a slight edge. If it is true that some Republicans are voting for Hillary she should have no problem carrying these important states, and likely the election at a national level.

    1. sigrid28 November 5, 2016

      The Democratic Party is right to bring in the courts to halt voter suppression, even though that’s just a stopgap compared to the power of one by one by one. I think the Democratic Party’s three-pronged strategy–of (1) getting voters to the poles early, (2) encouraging voting by absentee ballot, and (3) registering new voters– is such a natural and effective way to address the fact that there is (for whatever reason) typically lower enthusiasm among those who vote for Democrats. Hard as it is to identify the source of this malaise, it is easy to treat it by using one by one by one. I like the irony that Democrats are likely to win by putting convenience up against the obstacles Republicans seem determined to put in the way of voters (even many of their own). IMO, what we really need is to revamp voting throughout the country, perhaps regularizing it in some ways (while retaining enough variety to protect its integrity), and shorten the length of campaigns.

      1. CrankyToo November 5, 2016

        Excellent post!

      2. A. D. Reed November 5, 2016

        Good post, sigrid. I think one reason Democrats have “lower enthusiasm” is because they’re not motivated by fear, the way most Republicans are. When people are motivated by hope, or when they consider voting just one of the many things they “have” to do to get ahead, keep on the right track, make sure their lives are stable, it loses some luster. BUT when people are motivated by primal fear of “the other,” and that fear is pounded into them — into their amygdalas, not their cerebral cortexes — every day, every hour, they react. It’s almost delayed fight or flight. They see “them” committing crime on Fox every hour — even if there are five white-on-white murders, Fox shows only the black man arrested for a single assault. They see “foreigners” — so if one illegal Hispanic immigrant kills someone, and 11 million illegal Hispanic immigrants go to work and abide by the laws each day, while 200 white American men kill their white wives that week, whom do they see on Fox? The one Hispanic man, whose story is blasted every hour on the hour.

        Fear is what makes these people vote. That and simply being deplorable human beings. 🙂

        1. sigrid28 November 5, 2016

          I think you absolutely correct about the fear plays within the Repu

    2. Rojo Knit November 6, 2016

      Trouble with the garbage you see voting there is no one to point out to them what to do.

      1. CrankyToo November 6, 2016

        Sorry, knucklehead… we don’t speak gibberish on this site. Try it again in English.

        1. Rojo Knit November 7, 2016

          Yep truth hurts look at the picture the only thing worth looking at and isn’t garbage is the gentleman with the obvious who I’m going to vote for hat on.

          1. CrankyToo November 7, 2016

            I’ve got one word for you, Genius: punctuation. If you throw some into your remarks, maybe people will be able to understand what the hell you’re saying. Or don’t they teach English down there at the Hoot n’ Holler Elementary School?

          2. Rojo Knit November 8, 2016

            …and again not one who has educated themselves stupid. But you are.

  4. Jon November 5, 2016

    Another voter suppression effort by Republicans has them contacting registered Democrats urging them to vote online or by cell phone. No state allows that. Lying, threats, and intimidation is not only Trump’s way, it is the Republican way.

    1. black.glenda November 6, 2016

      It’s been 1 year since I quit my old job and I never felt better in my life… I started doing work at home, for a company I discovered over internet, few hrs each day, and I make much more than i did on my old work… My payment for last month was for 9 thousand bucks… Awesome thing about it is that now i have more time to spend with my family… http://korta.nu/MDe

    2. Irishgrammy November 6, 2016

      And surprisingly it happens EVERY election season! It makes the old saying, the only way Republicans win National elections is hoping for low turnout, depriving the usual segments of the population they always target and condemn or outright lies and cheating on epic levels……..there are ways this could be fixed, but as long as Republicans control the congress or state houses it will never, ever be fixed!!!

      1. Jon November 6, 2016

        Sadly, you are right.

      2. Rojo Knit November 7, 2016

        Right, right and more right. Look at 90% of the democrats who vote. Most of them can’t read or speak English. Half illegal. Why not twist and turn elections in our favor you did it the last two with the community organizer.

    3. Rojo Knit November 6, 2016

      It’s the truth you can. Honest lib.

      1. Jon November 6, 2016

        LOL. Nice try LIAR.

        1. Rojo Knit November 7, 2016

          Hey if you believe anything your lying candidate says what don’t you believe me?

  5. Irishgrammy November 6, 2016

    Never ceases to amaze in every election Republicans moan why minorities or young people don’t vote their ticket……..WELL COULD IT BE Republicans do everything they can to prevent the exercise of Americans franchise to cast a vote per their desires and wants and it clearly isn’t going to be for any Republican. I will never forget that within a couple of hours of the Supreme Court ruling knocking down Article 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Texas and North Carolina ran to put into affect the most extreme voting suppression legislation solely prevent those they don’t want voting, African Americans, Latinos, any minority, students and young people, etc., etc. as well as every other Republican controlled state legislature following in line doing the same…… When are these numb nuts going to realize the IDEOLOGY of today’s conservative mind set is not acceptable, and frankly quite noxious to those who suffer under it’s oppressive practice! There is a reason in the far right alternative universe, KKK, Nazis, White Supremacists, the extremes of the extreme far right and hypocritical evangelicals vote for and love what the Republican party has transformed into by the unfortunate devolving down into the depths of sick control of what should be free choices, arrogance of superiority, i.e., do as I say, not as I do……..racism on basic levels, i.e., if you won’t vote for us, we won’t allow you to vote for anyone……basically, do what we tell you to do, don’t complain and by all means don’t demand fairness, and maybe we will throw you a crumb every now and then……TOO HARSH, look at history Donald J. Trump being the bastardized result of what the GOP has fallen to.

    1. CrankyToo November 6, 2016

      Ouch! Don’t hurt ’em Grammy.

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