2020 election has highest voter turnout in half a century

As votes continue to be counted, it could be the highest turnout in more than 100 years.

Updated: November 9, 2020 - 9:52am

The overall voter turnout for the  2020 presidential election broke the previous percentage record from 2008, with ballots still being counted.

Projections by the Associated Press indicate 62% of the country's eligible, voting-age population turned out to cast a ballot for either President Trump or Democrat Joe Biden. Final tallies could make voter turnout the highest percentage in 100 years.

The current vote count also shows that 148 million people voted – 75 million for Biden, and nearly 71 million for Trump.

An AP analysis indicates that the record number is connected to the expansion and extension of mail-in voting rules in some states, amid the coronavirus pandemic that made voters fearful of going to potentially crowed polling stations.

The voter turnout increase in Montana and Vermont increased by 10 percentage points this year. 

Hawaii's turnout results jumped by 14 percentage points – the highest in the country. Texas, a state whose governments did not extend mail-in voting rules, but open in-person polling stations early, had a 9 percentage point increase, and 59% of its voting-age population showed up in 2020. 

Though increased voter turnout appears to have helped the Biden campaign reach presumed victory in several key battleground states, including Georgia and Arizona, Democratic lawmakers were surprised to see that turnout led to a series of election night defeats for their party as well. 

Democrats shrunk their House majority by several seats, failed to secure an outright Senate majority, and did not seize control of state legislature that they were projected to flip.

In New Hampshire, the state legislature flipped control from Democrat to Republican. And in Rhode Island and Vermont ,both Democratic strongholds, Democratic House speakers lost their re-election bids to Republican candidates. 

Texas was another state in which Democrats were surprised by how little high voter turnout rates helped their cause. The state's 38 electoral college votes went to Trump, and Democrats failed to gain a single congressional seat.