Early and In-Person Absentee Ballot

— -- Voters in 32 states will, as part of a galloping national trend, be able to vote before election day this year.

From the plains of Iowa to the shuffleboard courts of Florida, voting in the 2002 general election has already begun.

Voters in 31 states will be able to vote before election day this year.

And in Oregon, effectively every voter is a so-called "early voter," since all ballots will be cast by mail, as voters get their mail-in ballots between 14 and 18 days before November 5.

In 2000, 14 percent of voters cast absentee ballots or participated in early voting. In some states, just over 50 percent of voters participated before election day. It's a recent trend of late; in 1980, only five percent cast absentee ballots.

Politicians, pollsters, campaign advisers, journalists, and data collectors aren't exactly sure how to quantify and sift through the demographics of these early voters, especially since many states don't bother to keep reliable statistics.

And election day exit pollsters are flummoxed by this.

Early voting means campaigns have to start their voter communication (especially television and radio ads, and direct mail) earlier, and target it differently.

We present below a list of states and their early voting dates.

In 2000, the highest rates of early/absentee voting was in Washington State (52 percent), Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona (each around 35 percent), Tennessee (33 percent), New Mexico and California (22 percent).

In Florida, 9 percent of voters cast absentee/early ballots.

This document includes states with early voting and early, no-excuse absentee balloting. What one state labels as "early voting" might be labeled as "in-person absentee voting" in another state.