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My Turn - Kudos for early voters

Election Day in the USA is two days away. However, as of Oct. 29, more than 80 million Americans had already  cast their votes early-either by mail or in person, in the 2020 presidential elections. That number is already higher than the total number of early votes recorded for the 2016 presidential elections. The key word here is “elections.” We elect, albeit indirectly, our president, in a series of state-level elections, plus the District of Columbia.

Each state has a number of electoral votes, based on their population and the so-called “constant two” for their two U.S. Senators, regardless of population or size. For example, California has 55 electoral votes, Texas 38, Florida 29, New York 29, Pennsylvania 20, Ohio 18, Georgia 16, and Michigan 16.

Six of the above-mentioned states, excepting California and New York, are on various pundits’ “battleground” or “swing-state” lists. That’s why we’ve seen both President Donald Trump, and to some extent, former vice president Joe Biden, campaigning vigorously and spending multi-millions in these states.

To explicate what should be obvious, the key to winning the 2020 presidential elections is “voter turnout,” defined as “The proportion of the voting-age public that votes.” More often in American politics, it is defined as “the number of registered voters that vote.”

Historically, the USA ranks next to last among 21 comparable countries in voter turnout.

Australia tops the list at 82%, with compulsory voting and other incentives, including time off to vote and quaff a few with their mates before and after doing their patriotic duty.

 In my view, the already vibrant early voter turnout is a happy change from a dismal past. It signals a rousing resurgence of citizen participation in elections in general and presidential elections in particular. Whether it is a trend or an anomaly in voter turnout remains to be seen.

The larger, more immediate question about the historic 2020 early voter turnout could be who does it help and who does it hurt? Biden hopes it helps him and hurts Trump. Trump hopes the opposite. It may take a while to discern the answer to all that.

Personalities aside, one thing seems clear: the more convenient potential voters find the voting process to be, the more likely they are to actually cast their vote. Fortunately, even with COVID-19 continuing to plague us, voting for most Americans is more accessible and more convenient than ever before in American history.

Finally, if you are eligible to vote and didn’t do so early, get off your assets and go to the polls on Tuesday. That’s what I plan to do.

Retired Army Col. Thomas B. Vaughn can be reached at