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One-third of US has already cast its vote

November 06, 2012 16:54 IST

As polling centres in the United States open on Tuesday morning to decide who will sit in the White House for the next four years, over one-third of the total number of voters have already exercised their franchise by using the provision of early voting.

According to the latest figures complied by the US Election Project of the George Mason University, more than 30.5 million voters have already cast their ballots.

Barack Obama, who cast his vote through early voting along with First Lady Michelle Obama, led from the front as he became the first US President to do so.

Long queues were seen in several key battleground states including Florida and Ohio, where people waited for several hours for their turn to cast their ballots.

Michael P McDonald, Associate Professor at the George Mason University, has projected that nearly 35 percent of the total eligible electorates will cast their votes early this year.

In some states like Florida, more than half of the voters have already cast their votes.

As the term indicates, Early Voting means casting one's vote before Election Day, either by mail or in person. The time and date of early voting varies from state to state.

Any US citizen above the age of 18 is eligible to vote in the US general elections.

In Florida, by Sunday more than 4.5 million people had already cast their votes.

The number was high in several other sates as well with Colorado (1.7 million), Georgia (1.8 million), Iowa (640,000), North Carolina (2.7 million), Ohio (1.6 million), Oregon (1.1 million), Tennessee (1.45 million) and Texas (3.4 million), according to figures released by the US Election Project.

These votes will be counted along with the other votes on Tuesday evening after polling closes.

In the US, any American national above the age of 18 is eligible to vote in the general elections. But those in prison, probation or in parole are debarred from voting.

In 2012, an estimated 219 million people are eligible to cast their votes.

An estimated 3.2 million -- though having attained voting age -- are not eligible to vote because either they are in prison (1.6 million) or are on probation (1.32 million) or are on parole (about 630,000). In 2008, the total number of eligible voters was 213.3 million, of which an estimated 132.65 million (62.2 per cent) exercised their right to franchise.

The total number of eligible voters who were then debarred from voting stood at 3.1 million.

Meanwhile, recent opinion polls have revealed that Obama has a substantial lead among the early voters.

As the Romney campaign gained momentum after the first presidential debate in early October, team Obama pushed people to go in for early voting.

This was one of the reasons why Obama and Michelle opted to go in for early voting.

"If you look at the early voting in Nevada, Iowa, Florida, Colorado, Ohio, we feel very, very good about the numbers that we are mounting up in those states," Obama strategist David Axelrod said during a conference call last week, which was quickly disputed by the Romney Campaign.

"They are under-performing their 2008 numbers and we are over-performing," Romney's political director Rich Beesone said in reaction.

"In Iowa, 40 per cent of votes have already been cast and President Obama leads among early voters by 23 points in the latest polls. This means that Mitt Romney needs to win the remaining votes by 23 points to tie President Obama on Election Day," Obama Campaign spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters.

"We are ahead in early vote in almost every single swing state. We feel great about where our ground game is now. We feel great about where we are closing this race. We know there is a lot of fantasy talk happening from the Romney team about the number of electoral votes that they think they are going to achieve. We are not going to get into those kinds of predictions," she said.

Today's elections will not only elect the next president, but also all seats in the US House of Representatives and one-third of that in the Senate.

In addition, the ballot paper will also ask people to vote on several key amendments, issues and topics that vary from state to state.

Lalit K Jha
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