With short lines at the Xfinity Center, one of the largest polling locations for Prince George’s County residents, early election results suggest a surge in mail-in voting for the 2020 presidential election.
Voting opened at the Xfinity Center at the University of Maryland at 7 a.m. and remains open until 8 p.m. The location was also open for early voting from Oct. 26 to Nov. 2, and a secured ballot dropbox is located on site.
Throughout the morning of the election, lines remained bare, with College Park residents having little to no wait. Overall, residents shared positive experiences, commenting on the friendliness of the polling staff and the efficiency of the process.
“It was really easy, quick and fast and the poll workers were helpful in guiding you through the process,” College Park resident Jennifer Ayala said.
Ayala said that she chose to vote in person due to rumors that mail-in ballots could be tampered with.
So far, at least 101.9 million Americans have voted early nationwide. In 2016, only 47 million Americans had voted before Election Day, according to The Washington Post.
Mail-in voting was also prominent during the primaries, with 53 percent of votes cast by mail, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. This number shows that mail-in voting rates nearly doubled from the 2016 election to the upcoming election.
According to an Instagram poll, roughly ⅔ of University of Maryland students voted by mail, with about ⅓ voting either through early voting or in person on Election Day.
Students who chose to vote by mail shared that the COVID-19 pandemic, living out of state, and convenience were three prominent factors in their decision.
“I wanted to get it out of the way plus avoid contributing to any COVID-19 spikes,” said sophomore biology major Colette Lord.
Freshman journalism major Madelyn Willoughby echoed Lord’s sentiments, sharing her fears of spreading the virus to her parents by returning home to vote.
“I’m out of state and my parents are higher risk for COVID-19, so I wanted a remote option,” said Willoughby.
On the other hand, students who voted in person shared concerns for having the experience of being a first time voter, and general mistrust with the mail-in voting system.
“I requested two mail-in ballots from Minnesota and they never came, so I flew home and voted,” said sophomore journalism major Courtney Ruddy. “I spent four hours in the snow waiting to vote and I almost missed my flight back, because the ballot lady tried to argue that I received my ballot.”
Sophomore journalism major Kyros Morales also decided to vote in person, due to concerns with the trustworthiness of the mail system.
“Well, first time voting, so I wanted to do it right, but also didn't trust mail in,” said Morales.
Election results will be broadcast on a variety of news platforms including CNN, CBS News, ABC News and NBC News — some beginning coverage at 7 p.m. while other channels will be broadcasting throughout the night.