FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress on Friday, announcing that the bureau is taking another look at Hillary Clinton‘s personal email server “in connection with an unrelated case.” The stunning development comes a month after Comey defended his decision not to prosecute Clinton for using a private email server for official State Department business, and 11 days before the general election on November 8. It’s not immediately clear how this news will change the race, but Clinton has one thing working for her: early voting.
Early voting has already started in 37 states and more than 12.6 million votes have been cast, according to CNN and Catalist data released on October 28. Thousands have already voted in key battleground states, including Florida, North Carolina and Ohio. The Associated Press’ data estimates that 46 million are expected to vote before November 8. That’s as much as 40 percent of the electorate.
The votes aren’t counted until polls close on election day, but Catalist broke down the numbers by party registration. In North Carolina, the number of Democrats voting early surpasses the number of Republicans by 149,000. The Tar Heel State saw 61 percent of its total votes cast during the early voting period in 2012.
Georgia has also seen a significant rise in early voters, with 827,000 votes already cast. That’s up 39 percent from 2012.
The Associated Press’ data shows that early voting could help Clinton make Arizona suddenly competitive. Over 616,000 votes were already cast there and the number of Democrats (37 percent) and Republicans (38 percent) voting early is nearly the same. Republicans are also barely leading in Utah, where an increasing number of voters are picking Independent Evan McMullin instead of Trump.
Before today’s news, recent national polls have shown a tightening race. For example, an ABC News/Washington Post poll released on October 28 and conducted between October 23 and October 26, showed Clinton with just a 4-point edge over Trump, 48 to 44 percent. The poll of 1,109 lively voters had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
The Real Clear Politics poll average has clinton up 5.2 percent over Trump, 47.3 percent to 42.1.
In Comey’s letter, the FBI Director said that they have “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” into Clinton’s email use during another investigation of “an unrelated case.” After being briefed on Thursday, “I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.”
The letter does not say who specifically sent these emails in question and Comey notes that the FBI “cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant” or how long this “additional work” will take to finish. The New York Times reports that the new emails were discovered during an investigation into Anthony Weiner‘s latest sexting scandal.
However, the letter was more than enough for Republicans to pounce. Trump called it “bigger than Watergate… in my opinion.” House Speaker Paul Ryan called on the Director of National Intelligence to stop giving Clinton briefings until “this matter is fully resolved.”
Clinton held a press conference in Des Moines Friday night, telling the media that she was not told about this before the FBI’s letter was made public. She said that the FBI should release everything it has so the public gets the full facts.
“The director himself has said he doesn’t know whether the emails referenced in his letter are significant or not,” she said. “I’m confident whatever they are will not change the conclusion reached in July. Therefore it is imperative that the bureau explain this issue in question whatever it is without any delay.”