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Voters 50 and Over Dominate Pre-Election Day Ballot Casting

Older women outpace men in voting in several battleground states

A man drops off his ballot

Scott Olson/Getty Images

A voter drops his ballot in an official ballot box in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

En español | As Americans have already broken records for the number of ballots cast leading up to Election Day, voters age 50 and older appear to be maintaining their turnout predominance, even as they are coping with being at risk for becoming infected with the coronavirus.

Nearly 100 million votes had been recorded nationwide as of late Monday — nearly 36 million during early in-person voting and over 64 million via ballots mailed in or dropped off to election officials, according to the U.S. Elections Project based at the University of Florida. That's almost 72 percent of the total 139 million votes cast in the 2016 election.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an explosion of absentee and in-person early voting across the country. AARP launched a comprehensive voter education campaign to help the 50-plus population learn how to cast their votes safely and securely. The campaign includes individual guides to voting in each state, as well as emails, social media posts, paid advertising and tele-town halls.

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Leading into the final weekend before Election Day, AARP analyzed turnout data in a number of battleground states whose results are considered critical to determining who is elected president, as well as which party will gain or retain control in Congress. In each state, the majority of early and/or absentee ballots cast came from Americans 50-plus.

The data also shows that in pre-Election Day voting, turnout among women was outpacing men.

"While the early and absentee vote totals don't give us a full picture of what turnout will look like when all is said and done, it confirms what we've been saying all along: voters 50-plus, particularly women 50-plus, are among the nation's most reliable voters,” says Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer. “They have been paying close attention. They are motivated. And, their votes could very well decide the outcome."

Early turnout in battleground states

Here's a look at turnout rates among Americans 50-plus leading up to Election Day in key states.

  • Florida: Going into the final weekend, 7.3 million votes had been cast early in-person, mailed or dropped off. That compares with 4.9 million that had been cast ahead of Election Day by that time in 2016. Of the votes already cast, 66 percent were from voters age 50 and older, with 28 percent from those age 50 to 64 and 38 percent from voters 65-plus.
  • North Carolina: Of the 3.9 million early and mailed-in or dropped-off votes cast leading into the final weekend, 59 percent were from the 50-plus population. North Carolina women 50-plus represented 33 percent of the early vote while 26 percent were from men 50-plus. The pre-Election Day vote represented nearly a third of all registered voters in the state.
  • Pennsylvania: Data for this state represents more than 2 million ballots that were either mailed to election officials or dropped off. The Keystone State does not hold early voting. Among those votes, 66 percent were from voters age 50 and above, with 26 percent from voters aged 50 to 64 and 40 percent from Americans 65-plus. Women 50-plus represented 38 percent of all pre-Election Day votes cast.
  • Arizona: Of the 2.2 million absentee and mailed ballots recorded in Arizona as of last weekend, 63 percent were from the 50-plus population, including 27 percent from 50 to 64-year-olds and 37 percent from voters 65-plus. Early turnout among women 50-plus made up 34 percent of all absentee and mailed ballots, versus 29 percent for men 50-plus. The data does not include early voting turnout results.
  • Michigan: Among Michiganders, 71 percent of the 2.5 million mailed-in ballots were cast by the 50-plus population and 44 percent of those voters were 65 and older. Women 50-plus comprised 40 percent of the vote so far compared with 31 percent of men 50-plus. In 2016, close to 92 percent of all the absentee ballots cast in Michigan were from the 50-plus population. The data from this state also does not include early voting turnout results.
  • Wisconsin: The 1.6 million absentee votes received by election officials the weekend before Election Day were more than double the number of such ballots cast by this time in 2016. Of the 1.6 million, 62 percent came from voters 50-plus; 34 percent of early ballots were cast by women 50-plus and 28 percent by men 50-plus. The data from this state also does not include early voting turnout results.
  • Iowa: Just over 800,000 Iowans had returned absentee ballots as of the weekend before Election Day, with 68 percent of those being cast by voters 50-plus. In Iowa, women 50-plus represented 38 percent of the early votes. The data from this state also does not include early voting turnout results.

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