US early voting surges as Trump, Biden make late push

Concerns about Covid-19 at busy voting places tomorrow have pushed up numbers voting by mail and at early in-person polling sites

DETROIT/READING: A record 90 million Americans have voted early in the US presidential election, data on Saturday showed, as President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden campaigned across the country to try to sway the few undecided voters.

The high number of early voters, about 65 per cent of the total turnout in 2016, reflects intense interest in the contest, with three days of campaigning left.

Concerns about exposure to the coronavirus at busy voting places tomorrow have also pushed up the numbers voting by mail or at early in-person polling sites.

The Republican president is spending the closing days of his re-election campaign criticising public officials and medical professionals who are trying to combat the coronavirus pandemic even as it surges back across the US.

Opinion polls show Mr Trump trailing former Vice-President Biden nationally, but with a closer contest in the most competitive states that will decide the election.

Voters say the coronavirus is their top concern. The virus has killed more than 230,000 in the US and infected more than 9 million.

Both men barrelled through crucial states in the industrial Midwest and coastal south-east on Saturday, pressing closing arguments in a frantic sprint.

Using some of his most urgent language yet, Mr Trump warned of "bedlam in our country" if no clear winner emerges quickly, saying, without evidence, that it could take weeks to sort out a result and "very bad things" could happen in the interim.

Mr Biden, meanwhile, told backers it was "time for Donald Trump to pack his bags and go home". - REUTERS, AFP

The US presidential campaign in numbers 

3 Nov 3: Date of election

35 + 435 Besides voting for their president, Americans will also be choosing members of the country's 117th Congress. There are 35 Senate seats up for grabs, as are all 435 in the House of Representatives.

270 The electoral votes needed for a candidate to become president. The US does not elect a president by popular vote. Each state a candidate wins carries a different number of what are called electoral votes. Some have more, some have fewer, and 270 votes is the magic number for an absolute majority.

230 million The number of Americans entitled to vote.

US$6.6 billion Campaigns have smashed spending records this year, with US$6.6 billion (S$9 billion) spent by the presidential candidates. - AFP