In total, the total number of pre-election ballots to be distributed already exceeds the roughly 50 million pre-election ballots cast in 2016, although not all of those ballots are returned.
Change has accelerated this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as encouragement from Democrats.
The demands of registered Democrats exceed those of Republicans by more than 1.3 million requests to vote among CNN’s most competitive states currently reporting this data. Many mail-in ballots are unlikely to be returned, however, and the requests do not predict election results.
In the critical state of North Carolina, postal ballot requests exceeded one million on Wednesday. At this point in the 2016 cycle, only about 85,000 voters had requested ballots, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections.
Democrats in the state make up about 46% of those who have requested ballots so far, but only represent 37% of active registered voters. By comparison, Republicans make up more than 31% of poll applicants, but more than 35% of active registered voters.
Republicans could close that gap on election day. In recent CNN polls, 57% of supporters of President Donald Trump in North Carolina and 83% of those in Wisconsin said they plan to vote in person on November 3, compared to just 22% of supporters of Democratic candidate Joe Biden. in North Carolina and 28% in Wisconsin.
Half a million ballots already filed
Nationally, more than half a million ballots have already been cast in the 12 affected states, including nearly 200,000 from North Carolina and more than 3,000 from Florida on Thursday.
About two dozen states have now started postal voting or in-person advance voting, which means more data is available to the public on voter engagement and participation.
CNN will follow up on this information on election day and post regular updates.
Records already established
Fifteen states surveyed have already received more requests for postal votes than the total number of pre-election votes cast in 2016.
In Pennsylvania, where mail-in ballots are now available to all voters on demand, there were nearly 2.2 million requests to vote on Thursday, about eight times more than just over 286,000 votes cast before. the 2016 elections.
The Ohio Secretary of State announced this week that more than 1,784,000 mail-in ballots have been received by local election commissions. This is more than double the number received at the same time in 2016.
“One of the main reasons Ohio is considered the national leader in mail-order voting is that we’ve been doing it this way for almost two decades,” said Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose in a statement earlier this week. “You get good at something when you practice, and Ohio turned out to be game-ready. ”
Nearly a dozen states have changed their rules this year to expand postal voting for all voters due to the coronavirus pandemic. Four states and Washington, DC, have moved to a majority-by-mail election, where all eligible voters automatically receive a ballot without a request.
Michigan’s nearly 2.4 million vote requests so far are “more than ever,” according to the secretary of state’s office. This is already four times more requests than four years ago.
“Michigan has already had three successful elections this year, and we are on track to see more success and a record voter turnout in the general election,” Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a statement Thursday. “Voters can vote safely and securely while away from home, early at their local clerk’s office or at their polling station on polling day. ”
Trump won Wolverine State by less than 11,000 votes in 2016. Michigan voters approved a voting measure in 2018 to grant any registered voter the option to vote by absentee.
In Wisconsin, where Trump and Biden have made recent appearances, more than 1.1 million voters have already requested mail-in ballots starting Thursday. That’s more than the total number of Wisconsin voters who voted before election day, by mail or in person, in 2016.
“The elections are well underway at this point,” Wisconsin Election Commission administrator Meagan Wolfe said Thursday. “With 1.1 million missing ballots already in the system, that’s almost a third of the turnout we typically see in upcoming elections. “
CNN’s Lauren Peller and Bob Ortega contributed to this report.