1 of 5 | More than 33 million Americans have gone to the polls or sent in a mail-in ballot before Election Day, according to the United States Elections Project. File Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 4 (UPI) -- More than 33 million early votes have been cast as of Friday as U.S. voters head to the polls in a pivotal midterm election.
A total of 33,484,287 early votes have been cast including, 19,210,096 mail-in ballots and 14,274,191 in-person votes, according to the United States Elections Project. Election Day is Tuesday.
While turnout is strong for a midterm, The Elections Project's Michael McDonald, a political science professor at the University of Florida, said all these numbers need to be put into the context of past turnout.
"I rather suspect that we won't see the 50% turnout in the 2018 midterms," McDonald said, noting that was the highest midterm turnout since 1914.
He believes 45%-47% is possible this year, "but we will find out."
Early in-person voting is up in Georgia, with more than 2 million votes cast as of Wednesday, according to Georgia Secretary of State COO Gabriel Sterling. Nearly 1.9 million of those are in-person votes.
McDonald said that while Georgia has surpassed the in-person early voting of 2018, mail-in ballots have been suppressed by the 2021 S.B. 202 law.
"Georgia has half the number of mail ballots as a result of the law," McDonald said. But Georgia is seeing higher turnout overall this year.
South Carolina, which has turned in a total of 432,045 early votes, broke its one-day early voting record with nearly 50,000 ballots cast on Wednesday.
"With three days left of early voting totals remaining to report, the [South Carolina Election Commission] expects pre-Election Day turnout to continue to rise significantly," the commission said.
Florida had tallied more than 3.5 million early votes as of Thursday, although McDonald said Florida Democrats have requested more mail-in ballots but so far aren't returning them in higher numbers.
The Elections Project tally shows more than 57.3 million mail-in ballots have been requested nationwide, and in Florida 2.2 million mail ballots have been returned -- about half of the 4.3 million mail ballots requested in the state.
Florida is one of 10 states that allow election officials to begin both processing and counting mail-in ballots before Election Day, while 16 states and Washington, D.C., do not allow counting of mail ballots until the polls close.
Twenty-three states, including Pennsylvania, where 1,013,670 early mail-in votes have been cast so far, allow counting to begin on Election Day but before polls close.
On Tuesday, Pennsylvania's Supreme Court ruled that the state must not count any absentee and mail-in ballots that are received in undated or incorrectly dated envelopes.
Michigan has tallied 1,295,638 early votes, with McDonald saying the state's data show a greater youth engagement in early voting as abortion rights are on the ballot in the state.
McDonald said Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia are bucking the trend with strong Democratic engagement, adding that generic House polls "aren't picking up that engagement that's happening."
Democrats are showing greater engagement in the Senate and governor races nationally, McDonald said. A Gallup poll published Wednesday found more Democrats than Republicans said they would vote early -- 54% of Democrats versus 32% of Republicans.
But for Democrats, McDonald said the challenge is "How can you light a fire under Democrats everywhere?"