More than 3 million general election ballots cast so far in November election

Voters cast their ballots for the 2020 election at an early, in-person voting location in Arlington, Virginia, on September 18, 2020. By Adam Levy, Ethan Cohen and Liz Stark, CNN

(CNN) -- More than 3 million general election ballots have been cast with less than a month before Election Day, according to a CNN and Edison Research survey of election officials in 26 states reporting voting data.

Ballots returned have exceeded 2 million in 10 of CNN's most competitive-rated states. Registered Democrats comprised more than half of the ballots cast in six of those states -- Florida, Iowa, Maine, Nebraska, North Carolina and Pennsylvania -- that reported party data on the ballots. That's not necessarily an indicator of the ultimate outcome, though, since polling shows President Donald Trump's supporters strongly prefer to vote in-person on Election Day.

While the returns represent a small fraction of the expected number of ballots to be cast in 2020 -- Trump and Hillary Clinton received about 130 million votes combined four years ago -- some states have reported the number of ballot requests and returns have already set records, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic prompting more people to vote by mail or early.

North Carolina is one such state, where ballot requests have skyrocketed compared to 2016 levels.

"As of this morning, county boards of elections had received 1,193,857 mail-in ballot requests! That's nearly 9X the number of requests received at this time in 2016," the North Carolina State Board of Elections tweeted Monday.

Roughly 30% of those ballots requested have been returned so far in the Tar Heel State, and Democrats continue to outpace Republicans in casting their votes early. In fact, North Carolina Democrats have returned more than half of all ballots so far, despite comprising less than 36% of registered voters in the state. Republicans, meanwhile, make up over 30% of registered voters but only account for about 17% of ballots returned so far.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Monday advised Americans voting by mail to cast their ballots early.

"We do want, if citizens do choose to vote by mail, for them to do so early," Benson said during a visit to one of 23 satellite voting offices that opened in Detroit that day. "We don't want them to wait to the last minute to either request to return their ballot through the mail, and certainly as we get to within two weeks of the election, we're going to be telling every voter, to not return your ballot through the mail, it's too close to Election Day return it at a local dropbox or at your clerk's office."

Nationwide, more than 32 million ballot requests have been made -- primarily for mail-in ballots -- in the 37 states currently reporting. Another 43 million ballots have been or will soon be mailed to voters in the nine states -- along with Washington, DC -- that are automatically mailing ballots to eligible voters.

At least 5 million ballots in two critical states, Ohio and Arizona, begin to go out Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. In-person early voting in the states begin on those days as well.

The majority of states, however, are not yet reporting early ballot returns or have not sent ballots out domestically.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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