When We Vote

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U.S. Census data from the 2012 general election show that more and more Americans are voting before Election Day. Charles Stewart, Kenan Sahin distinguished professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, provides a detailed analysis showing that since 2000, the proportion of voters casting ballots early has nearly doubled from approximately 15 percent to more than 30 percent in 2012.

This progression has varied by state. In several states, led by the now all-vote-by-mail states of Oregon and Washington, mail ballots now greatly outnumber ballots cast on Election Day. Similarly, in other states such as Nevada, North Carolina, and Texas, Election Day voting has been largely outpaced by in-person early voting. And a few states like Florida have seen a shift away from Election Day voting to a mix of both mail and early in-person voting.