Washington Post says

Millions of Americans have also wanted to be heard. In a year when the act of voting felt more precarious than ever, more than 94 million had voted in the 2020 election by Monday, casting their ballots early or by mail in record numbers in virtually every state in the nation.

How does that compare to the 2016 election? (I realize states have passed laws to make it easier to vote absentee since Coronavirus...)

related: Statistics on vote by mail in the US presidential elections

  • 2
    Not only did states pass laws making it easier to vote absentee since Coronavirus, but Coronavirus itself gives a very strong (and very valid) motivation for some people to vote early/by mail. Trying to make any meaningful comparison against 2016 is incredibly difficult, at best.
    – aroth
    Nov 3, 2020 at 13:15

2 Answers 2


The Election Administration and Voting Survey, conducted by the Election Assistance Commission, collects data on this - the 2016 report states:

Over the past 20 years, the number of voters casting ballots using by-mail absentee and inperson early voting has increased dramatically. More states have adopted these modes of voting in an effort to make voting more convenient, and voters are taking advantage of these new options for voting. By-mail absentee voting allows individuals to receive their ballot in the mail before the election and then mark their ballot at their leisure. The voter typically puts his or her marked ballot in an envelope and then mails it to his or her local election office or places it in an absentee ballot drop-off box. In-person early voting—which some states refer to as in-person absentee voting—allows a person to have the same experience voting as they would if they voted on Election Day. The voter typically votes on the same type of voting equipment as they would on Election Day, but does so during the weeks leading up to Election Day.

In 2016, 41.3 percent of all ballots were cast before Election Day. Of the total turnout, 17.2 percent of ballots were cast using in-person early voting and 23.7 percent were cast using by-mail absentee voting.1

1: The percentages are based on data reported by 50 states and territories. Alabama, Iowa, Utah, and Vermont did not provide information about the number of citizens casting absentee ballots or voting at an early voting center

According to the Federal Election Commission's report on the 2016 election, there were 136,669,276 votes cast, so this translates to ~23.5 million in-person early votes, ~32.4 million by-mail absentee votes, and a total of ~56.4 million votes being cast before Election Day.

As you note in your question, it's hard to draw too many conclusions based on comparisons between these figures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, clearly 94 million ballots represents a large increase.

  • Do you have a citation for your last claim?
    – Barmar
    Nov 3, 2020 at 15:08
  • @Barmar the article linked in the question states that 94 million have voted before election day.
    – CDJB
    Nov 3, 2020 at 15:09
  • It was a joke, referring to the claim that a 68% increase is large.
    – Barmar
    Nov 3, 2020 at 15:30
  • @Barmar ahh sorry, I'm a little frazzled today!
    – CDJB
    Nov 3, 2020 at 15:31
  • 3
    What could possibly be worrying a politics afficionado today?
    – Barmar
    Nov 3, 2020 at 15:41

According to the Associated Press, approximately 58 million Americans voted either absentee, or early in person, in 2016.

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