2020 Election Voter Turnout

The 2020 presidential election saw the highest turnout in over a century, with nearly 2/3 of eligible Americans casting a ballot despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Observers attribute this to various reasons, including changes to state election laws and intense activism.

Jun 23, 2022
| Published:
Jun 23, 2022
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The 2020 Presidential election between incumbent President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden saw one of the highest voter turnouts in modern history, despite occurring amid a global pandemic, as states continued to enforce lockdown rules. Around 66 percent of all eligible voters cast their ballots in the presidential election, 7 percent higher than in 2016. Significant contributing factors included the introduction of universal mail-in voting in some states, higher turnout in early voting in most states, and efforts to increase voter registration in battleground states.

2020 Election Voter Turnout

The 2020 election produced the highest voter turnout across all age and race groups since 1900. According to the U.S. Census, 17 million more people voted in the 2020 presidential election than in 2016. 

Despite voter registration challenges caused by the pandemic, voters utilized non-traditional ways to vote, specifically early voting and vote-by-mail; 69% voted using these two methods. States with the highest increase in voter turnout voted entirely or almost entirely by mail. Because of the record number of mail-in ballots, some states needed more days to count the votes. President Biden was not announced as the projected winner by media organizations until four days after Election Day. 

In addition to the historic presidential turnout, Georgia saw record voter turnout for special elections: Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won seats in the United States Senate (the first Democratic victories in Georgia in 20 years). Georgia Democrats attribute much of their success in the 2020 elections to Stacey Abrams. She registered over 800,000 new Georgia voters before the 2020 elections and founded Fair Fight Action. In late 2020, Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffenspergeer accused the organization of pushing voting machine misinformation in the state.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why do you think 2020 voter turnout was exceptionally high?
  2. If 69% of votes in the 2020 election were absentee and early voting, why do you believe states are not expanding access to these?
  3. If you had the choice, which method of voting would you use?


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