Mail-in ballot tracker: counting votes in US swing states

By Juweek Adolphe, Derek Willis, Alvin Chang and Duarte Carrilho da Graça

This piece is published in partnership with ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive their biggest stories as soon as they’re published.

An unprecedented number of Americans are voting by mail this year to avoid Covid-19 risk. Joe Biden’s supporters have said they are more likely to vote by mail while Donald Trump’s supporters say they are more likely to vote in person. With postal delays, rejected ballots and a dearth of funding, the process isn’t always smooth – ballots can be rejected for multiple reasons, and due to court challenges, election rules are changing even while voting is underway. Meanwhile, Trump and other Republican officials have spent the last months casting doubt on the mail-in voting process, paving the way for legal battles during the vote count.

With data from University of Florida political science professor Michael McDonald, The Guardian and ProPublica are tracking votes in politically competitive states through the election to find out how many people are voting by mail, how their votes are counted, and what it means for the 2020 election. Our tracker will be updated as we obtain updated information, as well as other state data. We will also be investigating any aberrations and issues in the mail-in voting process as we find them, and telling the stories of the people and communities affected most.


Swing state breakdown

The following bar chart shows the information for the states of: North Carolina, Iowa, Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Methodology: The data displayed is obtained from state election agencies and analyzed by Michael McDonald, a political science professor at the University of Florida and maintainer of the U.S. Elections Project. Data on mail ballot requests, returns and rejections is updated regularly by the states, although not on the same schedule. Mail ballot figures do not include in-person early voting totals, except in Minnnesota, where the state does not separate the two.

Sam Levine, Ken Schwenke, Ankita Rao, Rachel Glickhouse and Scott Klein contributed to this project.