North Carolina began mailing more than 600,000 absentee ballots to voters on Friday, marking the official start of mail-in voting for November’s election.
Approximately 618,000 ballots have been initially requested by North Carolina voters, over 16 times more than the amount requested four years ago, the Associated Press reported.
The requests came disproportionately from Democratic and independent voters, according to the AP.
Election experts predict that a majority of the electorate will cast a ballot by mail, compared to just 25 percent who did so in 2016.
In Wisconsin and Florida, absentee ballot requests have already surpassed 2016 totals by approximately 100,000 and 1 million, respectively.
Of the 618,000 ballots requested thus far, 326,000 have been requested by Democrats and 192,000 have been requested by independents, reflecting the extent to which mail-in voting has become a partisan issue.
While some Democrats have been supportive of absentee voting as an alternative to in-person voting amid the pandemic, many Republicans have been critical of the method.
President Donald Trump has said it would lead to the most corrupt election in the nation’s history.
The differences in voting methods also mean that the results on election night may not match the final results, as the influx of absentee ballots may take days to count.
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