Key 2020 Swing States See 50 Percent Decrease in Voter Registration From 2016 Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Amid the coronavirus crisis, voter registration has been reduced by half in several states that will be critical to the 2020 presidential election.

Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia all saw the number of new voters registered in April 2020 down by at least 50 percent from April 2016, according to a report released Wednesday by the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation and Research. The analysis was first covered by USA Today.

"The steep decline in new registrations may prove to be a sizable obstacle to what was set, pre-pandemic, to be a record election for turnout," the report showed.

According to the analysis, the decline is likely attributable to social distancing and closures related to the coronavirus pandemic. Voter registration was ahead of the 2016 pace in most states until March when states began issuing lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. Measures taken to protect public health brought the two most popular methods of signing up new voters—third-party at schools or other venues and "motor voter registration" when someone applies for a driver's license—to a near standstill.

The registration drop in Arizona, Florida and North Carolina could have a big impact on the 2020 election. Experts generally agreed that those are three of the six states that will determine who wins the presidency this November.

Polling as of June 11 showed President Donald Trump trailing former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, in each of these areas.

The latest polls from Arizona and North Carolina also showed Biden in the lead by 4 percentage points. In Arizona, a Fox News survey found Biden with 46 percent support from registered voters compared with Trump's 42 percent. In North Carolina, a Public Policy Polling survey found Biden ahead of Trump 49 to 45.

The race appears to be a bit tighter in Florida, where the latest poll showed Biden ahead by 3 percentage points. The survey, conducted by Cygnal in late May, showed 47 percent of likely voters would back Biden compared with 44 percent who would support Trump.

Democrats are also targeting Texas and Georgia as potential wins for Biden. The states have historically been Republican strongholds but have been moving into purple territory in recent years in part due to rapidly diversifying populations.

Nationally, a recent survey from CNN showed Biden leading Trump by 14 points. The Trump campaign has sent a letter to the news network demanding an apology over the poll, claiming it was designed to mislead voters. CNN said it stood by the poll.

Overall, the Center for Election Innovation and Research found that voter registration across 11 states and Washington D.C. saw a 70 percent drop in April: Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

minnesota resident fills out voter registration form
A voter fills out a registration form at the Minneapolis Early Vote Center on January 17, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A new report found voter registration reduced by half in several states that will be critical to the 2020 presidential election. Stephen Maturen/Getty