For many in the United States, early voting has begun and social media has been flooded with photos and video of voters from across the U.S. facing long lines in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
This year’s election is expected to have an especially high early voter turnout, and many Americans could be waiting hours to cast their votes for either U.S. president Donald Trump or Democratic nominee and former U.S. vice-president Joe Biden. By last week, Reuters said nearly four million Americans had already voted, indicating “record turnout.”
Twitter user Johnta Austin, who lists himself in Atlanta, Ga., said he’d waited 11 hours in line by the time he’d made it to the front of the queue.
“A long journey but wouldn’t be anywhere else!” The tweet read. “Please vote everyone!”
Another user in Atlanta claimed her friend waited eight hours to vote.
“That, my friends, is voter suppression,” she tweeted.
In Smyrna, Ga., someone posted a video of people waiting in a line up that spanned several blocks, praising their “enthusiasm” and “patience” while early voting.
Meanwhile, as early as 6:30 a.m. in Texas, another user posted a photo of a line up that appeared to span around the corner, claiming there were “about 100 people in line” despite polls only opening at 8 a.m.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” the tweet read.
And in Nashville, Tenn., a video was posted outside of a downtown building that showed “well over 100 people” at the polls prior to its 8 a.m. opening time.
The hours-long voting lines paint a different picture than election voting days in Canada.
In a survey of almost 20,000 registered voters in Canada, Elections Canada found nearly two-thirds of respondents took five minutes or less to cast their votes during last year’s federal election.
Of those surveyed, 63 per cent said it took them between zero and five minutes to vote. Twenty-one per cent of those surveyed said it took them between six and 10 minutes to vote while 14 per cent said they waited longer than 10 minutes.
In addition to voting fast, Canadians also expect shorter wait times at the polls.
Elections Canada found just two per cent of nearly 50,000 electors said they expected to wait over 30 minutes in line to cast their votes, while 35 per cent of voters said they expected to wait less than five minutes.
Twenty-six per cent said they expected to wait between six and 10 minutes.
The University of Florida’s Michael McDonald, who administers the U.S. Elections Project — an early voting data aggregator — told Reuters mail-in voting has increased the number of people choosing to vote early.
“We’ve never seen this many people voting so far ahead of an election,” McDonald said.
“People cast their ballots when they make up their minds, and we know that many people made up their minds long ago and already have a judgment about Trump.”
— With files from Reuters