Source: Washington Post

North Carolina marked the official start of voting in the 2020 elections as the first state to send out absentee ballots. The Tar Heel state issued more than 650,000 ballots, the Washington Post reports.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to an uptick in the number of voters who expect to cast their ballots by mail. According to the Washington Post, at this point in the 2016 election only about 38,000 ballots were requested. Compared to 2016, a much larger share of the absentee ballots were requested by Democratic voters.

“It’s just an exponential increase [of absentee ballot requests] that we have never seen before in the state,” Catawba College professor Michael Bitzer said. He attributed the increase to voter enthusiasm and the pandemic.

“We are encouraging people to get their requests in as soon as possible, because there is such an overwhelming demand for absentee ballots this year,” said Patrick Gannon, spokesman for the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

Read the full story from the Washington Post.