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Early voting figures soar past 2012 levels as 22M ballots already cast

In 11 of 15 states, early voting has increased this year.

By Doug G. Ware

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- More people may be voting early this year than in any other election, statistics from an analytics firm indicated Monday.

Catalist, a data firm compiling the early voting tally, said that more than 22 million ballots have been cast already in 15 states with early voting and absentee ballots, The New York Times reported Monday.

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According to the figures, most of those states have logged more ballots to this point in the campaign than they did four years ago. In some parts of Texas, nearly twice as many early ballots were cast than were in 2012.

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Of the 15 states, early voting increased in 11 in 2016 compared to the last election and decreased in four -- Ohio, Colorado, Iowa and Nevada.

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California logged the second-largest increase, followed by North Carolina, Georgia and Arizona.

Catalist said the numbers also show early voting has increased in the 15 states among Hispanic Americans, but declined among adults under 30 in all but one (Colorado).

One possibility for the increased early voting, some experts say, is that more states offered it in 2016 than have in the past.

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"Once a state adopts early voting, more people vote early as a part of their election regimen," University of Florida professor Michael McDonald said.

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The analytics also broke down early voting by party in 12 states. In nine of them -- including California, North Carolina, Iowa, Nevada and Colorado -- more registered Democrats have voted than Republicans. Registered GOP voters have cast more early votes in three states -- Florida (barely), Arizona and Nebraska.

Earlier this month, Catalist said its data indicated that Democrats had dramatically cut into the lead Republicans generally hold in early voting in several key states, including North Carolina and Florida.

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"Since 2008, Democrats have taken to early voting in a way that Republicans have not," political science professor Barry Burden said. "This is largely because the Obama campaign emphasized the strategy of using early voting. The Clinton campaign has continued much of that effort. The Trump campaign is doing little by comparison."

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