October 26, 2018 / 5:33 PM
MARIETTA, Ga. (Reuters) – Hope Norris showed up two weeks early to vote in Marietta, Georgia, and waited 45 minutes to cast a ballot for Democrat Stacey Abrams, who could become the first black woman governor elected in U.S. history.
The 55-year-old social service worker was far from alone in voting well ahead of the Nov. 6 elections that will determine control of the U.S. Congress. Four states have already received more early ballots than they did in all of 2014, according to a Florida researcher who tracks the practice.
The rise in early voting has been accompanied by accounts of voters encountering trouble casting ballots or even being harassed in the wake of the heated U.S. political rhetoric fanned by Republican President Donald Trump and his Democratic opponents.
Candidates from both major parties are urging their supporters to vote early, with Democrats placing particular emphasis on it in the face of new laws imposing strict voter ID limits in states including Georgia and North Dakota.
“People are coming to vote early. That’s what we need them to do,” said Democratic House candidate Lucy McBath after casting her own early ballot in Marietta. “If there is a problem with your voter registration and your ability to vote, that still gives you time to rectify the problem and come back.”
Delaware, Indiana, Minnesota and Tennessee have received more early ballots with 12 days to go before the election than they had received in all of 2014 early voting, according to data compiled by Michael McDonald, a professor of political science at University of Florida at Gainesville.