(WASHINGTON) — Polls may have opened nationwide Tuesday morning, but the election has been under way for weeks thanks to early and absentee voting, and millions have already cast their ballots.
It is expected that 46 million people will have voted before Election Day this year, and their votes will make up roughly 35 percent of the total votes cast in this cycle. That’s an increase from 2008, when the total early and absentee vote was roughly 40 million and accounted for 30 percent of the total votes cast.
Out of the eight states that ABC News currently considers “toss-ups” — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin — all but New Hampshire allow for some form of in-person early voting. (New Hampshire only allows mail-in absentee voting for those who can’t make it to the polls on Election Day.)
Four of the states — Colorado, Florida, Iowa and Nevada — register voters by political party, so their early vote count includes a party breakdown. In three of these states — Florida, Nevada and Iowa — Democrats have a slight advantage in terms of early votes, while in Colorado, Republicans have the advantage.
But the vote is close in all these battlegrounds, and in each one voters registered as “no party” or “unaffiliated” — more commonly called independents — make up a sizable percentage of the voting population, which heightens the uncertainty about who is actually ahead in the final, crucial hours.
Below is a breakdown of where the early vote count stands in these battlegrounds:
COLORADO – 1,872,987
FLORIDA – 4,469,393
IOWA – 640,248
NEVADA (reports numbers by county)
And here’s the early vote numbers in battlegrounds that don’t register voters by party affiliation:
OHIO – 1,791,334
VIRGINIA – 427,987
WISCONSIN – 412,611
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio