TRENTON – More than 600,000 New Jerseyans have already voted in the 2022 general election, and it’s possible that nearly one-fourth of those who ultimately cast ballots will do so without going to a polling place on Election Day itself.

Democrats, who have embraced early voting in greater numbers, accounted for 61% of the early ballots cast through Thursday, with an edge in every congressional district. Republicans tend to favor Election Day voting and account for 22%. The remaining 17% are unaffiliated or registered with one of the minor parties.

(Townsquare Media NJ)
(Townsquare Media NJ)
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That doesn’t necessarily mean that Democrats have received 61% of those votes, as people are free to support candidates from whatever party they want in a general election.

County election officials were able to start processing mail-in votes Friday but can’t yet tally them. That early start was a change made starting with this year’s election, in hopes of being able to report those results faster on Tuesday night.

Repeat record turnout?

Turnout in the 2018 midterm election was unusually high at 3.25 million, more than 1 million above other recent midterms. It remains to be seen if this year’s participation can be sustained at that level, but early voting has been robust, on a pace to approach 750,000.

As of the end of Thursday, more than 475,000 people had voted through mail-in ballots – a slightly inaccurate name, as a little less than 300,000 of those votes were actually cast through the U.S. Postal Service.

More than 158,000 were returned through ballot drop boxes around the state. Around 3,300 were delivered in person to election officials. Over 12,000 were sent using bearers – a person who transports someone else’s ballot, either by hand or by mail. And more than 2,200 came via email or fax, generally reserved for overseas and military voters.

(Townsquare Media NJ)
(Townsquare Media NJ)
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Registered Democrats cast 64% of the mail-in ballots received through Thursday, compared with 20% from Republicans. In five of the 12 congressional districts, Republicans had cast fewer ballots than people registered with third parties or no party at all.

(Townsquare Media NJ)
(Townsquare Media NJ)
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The ballot imbalance is less pronounced for early in-person voting, now in its second year. Among those nearly 125,000 votes cast through Thursday, Democrats had cast 47%, Republicans 31% and unaffiliated and minor-party voters 22%.

In two of the 12 districts – the 2nd and 4th districts, the only two with GOP incumbents, registered Republicans have cast more early in-person ballots than Democrats. The next closest is the 7th District.

Here's a more interactive way to visualize early voting. Click on the number for the congressional district to refresh the data presentation.

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Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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