United States Elections Project
   
 

(Nearly) Final 2008 Early Voting Statistics

Last updated: May 1, 2010

In the presidential election of 2008, approximately 39.7 million or 30% of all votes were cast prior to Election Day, November 4, 2008. This is a significant increase from 20% in 2004 and part of the upward trend experienced since 1992, when 7% of all votes were cast early. These numbers are likely to increase in subsequent presidential elections as more states adopt early voting and more voters become comfortable with the practice. A summary of these early voting laws can be found at Paul Gronke's excellent Early Voting Center. I discuss the bright future of early voting - among other trends - in this article available at the on-line political science journal, The Forum.

I say "approximately 30%" because there are a number of technical issues that arise when discussing these early voting statistics.

Perhaps most importantly, some mail-in ballots are dropped off on Election Day at a polling place. There were 1.1 million such drop-off ballots in California alone, which encourages this practice. There is some question as to whether or not these drop-off ballots count as early votes since they are technically cast on Election Day, though one could imagine a voter filling out their ballot the night before the election. Most states do not report their mail ballot statistics in such fine detail, so I do not attempt to make a distinction in the statistics reported here. Depending on how one would count these drop-off ballots, and depending on other details I discuss below, the percentage of early votes could be higher or lower than 30%.

Second, there are a number of states that report incomplete statistics or are not yet reporting, noted below. Sometime mid-2009, I hope to update these numbers with statistics provided by the states and localities to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission as part of their survey of election administration in the United States, known as the Election Day Survey. (I am a consultant to the EAC on the 2008 Election Day Survey and a co-author of the 2004 report.)

Third, most states report the total number of early votes cast and early votes are expressed as a percentage of the total ballots cast in these states, while a few states noted below report statistics for the number of early votes cast by office. I report for these states the total number of early votes cast for president, or what is known generically as Vote for Highest Office (a designation that has more meaning in a non-presidential election year). I report early votes as a percentage of the vote for president in these states.

Fourth, for a few states, a small number of localties have incomplete reporting. Here, the number of early votes is estimated by extrapolation.

Where available, I post the percentage of early votes that were cast by mail, rather than cast in-person at a special early voting polling place. For some states, such in-person early votes may be cast in-person at a local election administration office.

The Associated Press Elections Research and Quality Control Group graciously provided many of these statistics. All errors are my own. Please be sure to read the notes at the bottom of the page if you believe there is an error. During the run-up to the 2008 general election, I posted pre-election 2008 early voting statistics that for some states have links to early voting data and summary statistics by party registration and other demographics. I have also posted 2008 voter turnout rates, some of which data is used in the table below.

State
% Early Votes
% Mail Ballots of All Early Votes
Vote for Highest
Office
Total Ballots Cast
Mail Ballots
Early In-Person Votes
Total Mail Ballot & Early In-Person Votes
United States 32.0% 131,256,905 132,580,096 42,403,308
Alabama 4.1% 2,099,819 2,105,622 87,284
Alaska 30.0% 326,197 327,341 98,159
Arizona 52.9% 2,293,475 2,320,851 1,227,267
Arkansas 37.1% 18.1% 1,086,617 1,095,958 73,640 24,519 406,139
California* 44.8% 96.0% 13,561,900 13,743,177 5,916,705 246,042 6,162,747
Colorado 78.9% 80.7% 2,401,361 1,528,458 365,237 1,893,695
Connecticut* 10.4% 1,646,792 171,551
Delaware* 5.2% 412,398 21,450
District of Columbia 10.5% 265,853 266,871 27,955
Florida 51.8% 40.0% 8,390,744 8,453,743 1,751,277 2,630,416 4,381,693
Georgia 53.1% 14.4% 3,924,440 300,016 1,784,163 2,084,179
Hawaii 38.5% 60.3% 453,568 456,064 105,866 69,660 175,526
Idaho 29.6% 655,032 667,506 197,368
Illinois* 8.7% 5,523,051 5,578,195 486,793
Indiana 23.6% 2,751,054 2,805,986 662,443
Iowa 36.0% 1,537,123 1,546,453 557,333
Kansas 34.7% 1,235,872 428,772
Kentucky 6.3% 1,826,508 115,916
Louisiana 14.7% 12.9% 1,960,761 1,979,852 37,802 254,212 292,014
Maine 31.3% 49.3% 731,163 744,456 114,981 118,378 233,359
Maryland 7.9% 2,631,596 2,651,428 208,201
Massachusetts 6.5% 3,080,985 3,102,995 202,421 202,421
Michigan* 20.4% 5,001,766 5,039,080 1,029,149
Minnesota 10.0% 2,910,369 2,921,147 292,535
Mississippi 2.9% 9.9% 1,289,856 33,689 3,715 37,404
Missouri* 11.1% 2,925,205 323,776
Montana 39.7% 491,960 497,599 197,505
Nebraska 21.8% 801,281 811,923 176,946
Nevada 66.9% 13.5% 967,848 970,019 87,337 561,772 649,109
New Hampshire 10.0% 710,970 719,643 72,056
New Jersey 7.4% 3,868,237 3,910,220 287,475
New Mexico 62.3% 33.1% 830,158 833,365 172,136 347,159 519,295
New York 3.6% 7,594,813 7,674,784 279,468
North Carolina 60.6% 8.6% 4,310,789 4,354,571 227,799 2,411,116 2,638,915
North Dakota 37.2% 64.0% 316,621 321,133 76,531 42,989 119,520
Ohio 25.2% 5,698,260 5,773,387 1,456,364
Oklahoma*
13.0%
1,462,661 189,775
Oregon 100.0% 100.0% 1,827,864 1,845,251 1,845,251 1,845,251
Pennsylvania* 3.9% 6,012,692 235,258
Rhode Island* 5.1% 469,767 23,735
South Carolina* 17.4% 1,920,969 1,927,153 334,093
South Dakota 25.2% 381,975 387,449 97,582
Tennessee 59.2% 4.1% 2,599,749 2,618,238 63,929 1,515,843 1,550,939
Texas* 66.5%   8,077,795     5,351,660
Utah* 37.1% 23.9% 952,370 971,185 85,981 274,354 360,335
Vermont 29.0% 325,046 326,822 94,668
Virginia 13.5% 3,723,260 3,753,059 506,672
Washington 89.2% 3,036,878 3,071,587 2,740,065
West Virginia 23.7% 10.6% 713,362 731,691 18,409 155,054 173,463
Wisconsin 21,2% 2,983,417 633,600
Wyoming 25.2% 254,658 256,035 64,430

* Notes:
California's numbers are compiled by Santa Barbara Clerk and County Reporter Joe Holland and include all-mail ballot precincts excluded from the California Statement of Vote.
Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Texas and Utah are incomplete reports.
Missouri and Pennsylvania early votes are estimated.
Delaware, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Wisconsin report the number of early votes cast for president only.
Massachusetts, Mississippi and Wisconsin early votes are from the statistics reported in the U.S. Election Assistance Commission's 2008 Election Day Survey.