With votes still being counted, turnout in the 2020 presidential election has hit a 50-year high, exceeding the record set by the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama — an extraordinary engagement in what amounted to a referendum on President Donald Trump’s leadership.
As of Sunday, the tallied votes accounted for 62% of the eligible voting-age population in the U.S. That’s a 0.4 percentage point increase so far over the rate hit in 2008, when the nation elected its first Black president.
The sheer number of votes also set records, although that’s a less remarkable milestone given the country’s growing population. So far 148 million votes have been tallied, with Democrat Joe Biden winning more than 75 million — the highest number for a presidential candidate in history. Trump received more than 70 million — the highest total for a losing candidate.
The numbers are certain to rise as election officials continue to count more ballots. But election experts and partisans already are debating the forces behind the swell of civic participation. Some pointed to the numbers as evidence of what happens when states expand the time and the ways voters can cast ballots, as many states did this year.