Record High Turnout in 2020 General Election

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America Counts: Stories Behind the Numbers


Record High Turnout in 2020 General Election

Despite unique challenges to voter registration and voting created by COVID-19 and heightened concerns about turnout as a result, the 2020 election had the highest voter turnout of the 21st century.

The 2020 election featured the largest increase in voters between two presidential elections on record with 17 million more people voting than in 2016.

The COVID-19 pandemic did not prevent Americans from registering and voting at relatively high rates. Only 2% of citizens 18 and older who did not register to vote reported not registering because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and only 4% of registered nonvoters reported not voting due to such concerns.

Many voters used alternative voting methods and there was a large shift to early voting and voting by mail.

Continue reading to learn more about:

  • Higher turnout across all race groups
  • Turnout by sex and age
  • Population shifts and turnout

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What Methods Did People Use to Vote in the 2020 Election?

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a variety of changes in voting methods across the country in 2020, and the ways people could cast ballots varied widely from state to state.

Many states maintained traditional voting procedures, but some expanded early voting, and others automatically sent all registered voters a ballot that could be returned by mail.

New data from the Current Population Survey’s voting supplement examine voting methods in 2020 and changes from 2016 at the national and state levels.

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