Early U.S. vote surpasses 85 million, Texas exceeds 2016 turnout

Voters wait in long lines to cast their ballots during early voting at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in in Indianapolis, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. The wait to vote at this location is expected to be over 5 hours. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

With four days remaining in the U.S. presidential campaign, more than 85 million Americans have cast ballots, including 9 million in Texas, where the secretary of state's office on Friday said early voting had eclipsed total turnout from 2016.

Early voting has been setting records across the United States, with nationwide turnout passing 60% of the 2016 total, according to the U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida. But Texas is just the second state, after Hawaii, to break the full-year record before Tuesday's Day.

Friday is the final day of early voting in several states across the country, including Georgia and Arizona.

Texas hasn't voted for a Democrat for president since 1976, but polls suggest Democratic nominee Joe Biden is leading among the voters who have helped set the unprecedented early levels. Polls also show Biden effectively tied with Republican President Donald Trump in Texas.

Harris County, the state's biggest, which includes Houston and has become a Democratic stronghold in recent years, opened eight 24-hour voting locations on Thursday, helping boost the turnout numbers to their record level on Friday.

Trump struck an optimistic note at the White House on Friday, where he addressed reporters before leaving on a campaign trip.

"Texas - we're doing very well," Trump said.

The Trump campaign has cited its own internal analysis that it said showed the president is ahead by hundreds of thousands of votes among early ballots. Trump won Texas by a 9-percentage-point margin in 2016, when total turnout reached 8,969,226, according to the secretary of state.

Biden's running mate, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California, is scheduled to visit Texas on Friday. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg plans to spend $15 million in the state and Ohio in a last-minute bid to flip both Republican-leaning states.

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