As of Thursday morning, a total of 17,360,907 ballots have been cast throughout 42 reporting states, in an election expected to be conducted largely by mail due to COVID-19.

The U.S. Election Project, run by University of Florida professor Michael McDonald, found that the majority of the ballots cast ahead of the Nov. 3 election date in the 15 states that report party registration data thus far have been from Democratic voters — 4.3 million have been returned, compared to the Republicans’ 1.8 million, though those numbers only apply to the small percentage of states reporting party registration information.

Those 15 states — California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Maine, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Dakota — showed that 10 million more Democrats requested mail-in ballots (23,635,124) than Republicans (13,904,914). An additional 15 million voters without a party affiliation requested ballots in those states as well.

The small proportion of Republicans voting by mail is unsurprising for two reasons.

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According to an analysis by Pew Research Center released in June, 34% of registered voters identify as independents, 33% as Democrats and 29% as Republicans. When the party leanings of the independents are factored in, 49% of registered voters identify as Democrats or lean Democratic, and 44% identify Republican or lean Republican.

President Donald Trump has strongly discouraged his Republican followers to cast their votes in-person to make them count, citing false claims of mail-in ballot fraud.

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