The combination of a deadly pandemic, a shaky election infrastructure, and a president—sickened by the coronavirus himself—sowing doubt about the integrity of the vote has led to fears of a plunge in turnout and widespread disenfranchisement. But what if those worries are overblown? There’s a chance the nation will wake up November 4 to at least one hopeful sign about the health of its democracy: a record number of citizens turning out to cast ballots.
There are ample reasons to think turnout might surge. Polling data and early-voting levels, along with turnout and registration numbers during the Trump era, all point to a surge at the polls unseen in decades, election experts say. “The intensity of the electorate is without recent precedent,” Tom Bonier, the CEO of TargetSmart, a Democratic political-data firm, told me.