Early voting: Does your state allow it; has it started?

On the calendar, midterm elections are a little more than two weeks away, but in reality, they started last month.

Early voting – which includes voting in person or by mail – has begun in 37 states and the District of Columbia.

Over the past few election cycles, the flexibility some states offer when it comes to when and where you can cast your ballot has become very popular with voters. Around 40 percent of all the ballots cast nationwide in both the 2014 midterm election and the 2016 general election were cast prior to Election Day. In the 2016 general election, 57.2 million ballots – or 2 in 5 ballots cast -- were cast in early voting.

During the 2016 election, the combined average of early voting in 16 states – in-person, absentee and by mail – accounted for more than 50 percent of the votes cast in those states. In seven of those states – Arizona, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, Nevada, Oregon and Texas – 60 percent of the votes cast in the 2016 election were cast through in-person early voting.

Numbers from some states where early voting has begun show a large number of voters are taking advantage of the opportunity to cast a ballot in advance of the Nov. 6.

On Wednesday in Tennessee, the first day of early voting for the midterm election in that state, 120,893 people voted. The tally includes absentee-by-mail votes collected that day and votes made at nursing homes, according to The Tennessean.

More than 143,000 Tennessee residents voted early in the 2016 presidential election.

Historically, far more people vote in a general election than in midterm elections.

Does your state allow early voting? Here are the states that do and the states that do not.

No early voting: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania

Here is a breakdown of early voting by month:

States that started voting in September: Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming

States that start voting in October: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado (votes are cast by mail), District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois (via absentee ballot submitted in person), Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon (by mail), Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Washington (by mail), Wisconsin (absentee ballot by mail)

States that start voting in November.: Oklahoma

If  you have questions about early voting, click here to see your state's law governing early voting.

What does it mean to vote absentee?

An absentee ballot is a vote cast by someone who is unable to vote in person at a polling place. In some states, an excuse is needed to get an absentee ballot. Other states do not require an excuse for an absentee ballot.

Are early votes counted early?

No, early votes are counted on Election Day.

Does one party get more benefit from early voting?

Michael McDonald, an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida, says Democrats generally benefit from early in-person voting. Republicans benefit from mailed-in ballots and those who vote on Election Day.

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