Nearly 100 million Americans had voted before November 3, the official election day in the US – nearly two-third by mail ballots and the rest in-person. In addition to delaying the counting, such‘early voting might have a significant impact on the election.

In countries where it is allowed, early voting has been effective at relieving congestion at polling stations on election day, something that is especially helpful in this Covid-era.

In the recent New Zealand election, for example, 56.7% of people voted early, an increase from 48% in 2017. Part of this increase maybe attributed to the pandemic. But the popularity of this method was on the rise. In 2011, only 14.7% of New Zealand votes were cast before election day.

In neighbouring Australia, while only 26.4% of votes were cast pre-poll in 2013, it increased to 40.1% in 2019.

In the US, in presidential elections between 2000 and 2016, the percentages of early voting were 16, 22, 30.6, 31.6 and 36.6. With many states relaxing requirements due to the pandemic, early voting is now allowed in 43 American states and the District of Columbia, but in different forms. Early voting periods range in length from four days to 45 days across states, the average length being 19...

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