The calendar may still say September, but voting in the 2022 midterm elections is already underway in several states.
That includes Illinois and Michigan, where in-person early voting gets started this week. In Minnesota, South Dakota, Virginia and Wyoming, the early voting period actually started last week.
In some states, early voting is conducted through in-person absentee voting.
While Democrats are often eager to cast early ballots, Republican candidates in competitive races have to deal with skeptics of in-person early voting, mail-in ballots and drop boxes among their supporters.
That’s true in Virginia, which features several close contests. In the commonwealth’s 7th District, both candidates held events Saturday tied to the start of early voting.
Yesli Vega, the Republican challenging Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, acknowledged that some people may not want to vote until Election Day but encouraged people to vote and to continue to spread the word about her campaign.
“I want to take a little bit of time to talk about the importance of your vote, whether it be early voting, whether it be on Election Day,” she said. “We have patriots, pioneers that shed blood so that you and I can have that important right to cast our votes.”
Similarly, Spanberger told volunteers who gathered in Stafford County, Va., on Saturday that they can tell people about early voting as they talk to potential voters.
“Knocking on doors and talking to volunteers, or talking to people at their homes, is such an important way for people to know what is coming up with this election, to know that early voting started yesterday, and so they can actually go cast their ballot, and making sure that people know why it is that I continue to want to serve in this way,” she said.
In other key states, mail-in ballots are already being returned. That list includes Pennsylvania, where more than 1,200 people had already returned their ballots as of Wednesday, according to data compiled by University of Florida professor Michael McDonald of the United States Election Project.
Pennsylvania is near the top of the states to watch this cycle with key gubernatorial and Senate contests, along with several House races that could prove crucial in determining the scope of any potential GOP majority in 2023.
Mehmet Oz, the doctor and former television host who is the Republican nominee for Senate, and his campaign have repeatedly criticized his Democratic opponent Lt. Gov. John Fetterman for not agreeing to any debates before voters started voting.
Beyond the Keystone State, ballots are being cast in several races that will determine control of the House in 2023 and the size of any potential Republican wave. Minnesota, for instance, features a race that Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates a toss-up in the 2nd District between Democratic Rep. Angie Craig and Republican challenger Tyler Kistner.
Michigan early voting sites were popping up ahead of the deadline to start Thursday, which is 40 days before Election Day. Ann Arbor, Mich., for instance, opened a satellite clerk’s office at the University of Michigan art museum on Tuesday, according to MLive.com.
There are several key races in Michigan, and former President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly criticized early voting, is scheduled to hold a rally with endorsed candidates in Warren, Mich., on Saturday.
That includes John James, the Republican nominee in Michigan’s new-look 10th District, where Inside Elections says the race Leans Republican. James is running against Democrat Carl Marlinga.
Northwest Illinois voters have a toss-up House race of their own, for the reconfigured district that is being vacated with the retirement of Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos.
Republican nominee Esther Joy King, who ran against Bustos in 2020, was among candidates using social media to tell supporters how to get out the early vote. She is running against Democratic nominee Eric Sorensen, a former television meteorologist.
Democrats are targeting that newly redrawn 13th District, which GOP Rep. Rodney Davis currently represents, as an opportunity to flip a red seat blue.
Davis lost his reelection effort in a primary against Trump-backed Republican Rep. Mary Miller in the 15th District. In the 13th, Democrat Nikki Budzinski, a former gubernatorial aide, holds an advantage over Republican Regan Deering, who chaired the Decatur Public School Foundation, in a race that Inside Elections rates as Leans Democratic.
The next wave of early voting launch dates will be Oct. 9 in Maine, where there’s a must-watch rematch between incumbent Democratic Rep. Jared Golden and former Rep. Bruce Poliquin in the state’s sprawling 2nd District.
Kate Ackley and Mary Ellen McIntire contributed to this report.