US citizens are telling increasingly unsettling stories as some head to the polls early to cast their vote.
Americans across the country have been turning up for early voting in some states in the US, where reports of long lines and up to 11-hour waits are starting to emerge.
Journalist Roland Martin said the sight of “massive lines” to cast an early ballot this week moved him to tears. Others told stories of sore feet and hunger while they waited to vote alongside parents with children.
The voter turnout so far has been breaking US records. More than 18.3 million US residents have already cast their vote this year, either in person or through mail-in ballots, according to the US Elections Project. The Project tracks early voting statistics across the country in real time.
A total of 130 million Americans voted in the 2016 presidential election.
Musician Johntá Austin shared a video of himself making it to the front of the voting line after an 11-hour wait earlier this week.
“We made it y’all. It’s been an honour to share this almost 11-hour experience with you all. And we did it,” he said in the video, which has been viewed more than seven million times. “Vote. Vote.”
The video was shared by former president Barack Obama, who slammed the long waiting times at booths around the country.
“Nobody should have to wait 11 hours to vote, but we’re all grateful that you – and all those in line with you – stuck it out,” Mr Obama wrote on Twitter. “Keep making your voices heard, everybody. Our democracy depends on it.”
Another voter in Duluth, Minnesota, said they waited two-and-a-half hours to cast their vote, and stood by another voter who waited with their children. The comparatively shorter wait still tested the voter, who said their feet hurt and they were hungry and had “considered leaving and trying again tomorrow” but they stuck it out because of the kids waiting.
“If I left, those kids would never know if I voted,” they said.
TV anchor Elaine Reyes shared a thread of her friend Kevin, lining up to vote with his wife and daughter. The group, who arrived in the dark at 7am, had to wait 11 hours to cast their vote on one of the voting centre’s 15 voting machines.
Meanwhile Martin said when he drove up to a polling station in Texas, there was a “massive line after the polls had been open 27 minutes”. Reports said voters in the state had been waiting up to eight hours to vote.
US voters have been urged to vote early, or take advantage of postal voting, to avoid crowds in the pandemic-era presidential election.
In Georgia, traditionally a Republican state, voters had lined up for eight hours for early voting on Monday. Some 126,000 votes were cast in the state on Monday alone.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden leads Mr Trump in the state according to a recent poll, with 51 per cent of Georgians liking the Democrat, and 46 per cent disliking him. Mr Trump is liked by 43 per cent of Georgians, and viewed negatively by 54 per cent, according to The Hill.
The Republican and Democratic Parties have both been urging their supporters to cast their votes early to avoid overcrowding, and exacerbating the COVID-19 health risks on voting day.