Perhaps it was only a matter of time before the land of billion-dollar election campaigns supersized the vote itself. The great wave of early voting America has experienced over the past two weeks is nonetheless bracing. By the time Donald Trump and Joe Biden are due to hold their debate this week, around 50m ballots will have been cast—almost 40% of the total in 2016. The president, it must be said, is leaving his comeback awfully late.
A tour of polling stations in North Carolina—up and down Interstate 85, which links the battleground state’s main conurbations—illustrated this new voting season. Beginning in the sprawling suburbs of Charlotte, shortly before sunrise, Lexington witnessed voters queuing up around the block, silent or in hushed conversation with a companion, with sometimes a child or two in tow. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” marvelled the Republican commissioner of Union County, Richard Helms, outside a fire-station-site in suburban Indian Trail. His county, on the city’s outer edge, cast 103,000 votes in 2016. Mr Helms expected it to have cast 40,000 by the end of this week.