Mandatory email voting does not harm Democratic or Republican candidates

Ballots have been a hotly debated political topic in recent days

Mandatory mail-in votes result in a slight increase in voter turnout – for both Democrats and Republicans.

This is the finding that the researchers discussed after analyzing more than 40 million individual voting results from Utah and Washington – two states that have gone from personal polls to nearly complete postal voting for many years – as well. that nearly 30 years at the national district level. voting data.

The result, published Aug. 26 in Science Advances, indicates that the current political zeitgeist whose mail-in votes benefit one party rather than another is bogus, says political scientist Michael Barber of Brigham Young University in Provo, in the ‘Utah. When voters cast their ballots by mail, he said, “No party was hurt.”

Although Utah and Washington do not reflect nationwide voting patterns, the authors note that because Washington is blue and Utah is red, the vote by vote can affect voters voting by party. As the country is in the midst of a pandemic, policymakers and public health experts have proposed voluntary postal voting to allow Americans to vote safely in November. And many states have facilitated these votes. A recent Washington Post poll shows that more than 80% of voters nationwide can now vote by mail.

But some Republican voters are increasingly cautious in the process. A Gallup poll in May 2020 found that 83% of Democratic respondents agreed with their state that all residents could vote by mail, but only 40% of Republicans. In a separate question, 76% of Republicans said correspondence polls resulted in more fraud than 27% of Democrats.

Barber and John Holbein, political scientists and public policy experts at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, are organized across multiple datasets to understand how postal voting affects general and party turnout over the past decades. For the first time, researchers have identified provinces in six states that introduced more universal voting methods between 1992 and 2018, in particular sending a ballot to all voters. before polling day and restrict or abolish personal voting. These states are Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Colorado and Nebraska.

Using census data, the researchers identified the total number of eligible voters in counties where postal voting took place and those who did not. The team compared voter turnout in different constituencies using election data showing how many eligible voters actually voted in each interim or presidential election in the fourth century. Barber and Holbein also compared voter turnout in a given county before and after implementing an email voting policy. Another dataset, Dave Leip’s Election Atlas, allows researchers to assess the party’s share of votes in each midterm and presidential election.

Researchers analyzed individual voting patterns for Washington and Utah. In total, the researchers analyzed more than 40 million voting results from 2012 to 2018 in Utah and from 2002 to 2016 in Washington.

Individual data from Washington and Utah showed that the turnout for Democrats, Republicans and independent voters edged up. The district-level analysis also showed that postal voting resulted in an increase in voter turnout from 1.8 to 2.9 percentage points.

Partisan votes in provinces that sent mail-in votes fell 0.7% in favor of the Democratic Party, the team found. However, given the margin of error in the results between -0.7 and 2 percentage points, that increase is not statistically significant and could potentially go both ways with each option, Barber said. As such, only 1.5% of the boroughs studied have freedom of just 0.7 percentage point between parties, the authors said.

The authors use “best statistical skills” in backing their results nationally to the provincial level with individual results from Washington and Utah, says Donald Green, a political scientist at Columbia University. “I am not sure the Republican leadership is prepared to grant 0.7 percentage point,” he said.

Such an in-depth geographic study can hide smaller communities, added Jean Schroedel, a political scientist at Claremont Grgraduate University in California. His work shows that Native American mail exchanges originate from reservations, many of which lack regular mail access and have long been suspected by non-tribal government agencies. “Locals don’t trust the vote – period – but they really don’t trust the postal vote,” Schroedel said.

While states are controlling how to protect vulnerable voting clients, such as keeping certain physical polling stations open, the results may not alleviate other recent concerns about postal voting, admits Barber. . These include concerns about the ability of the United States Post Office to keep up with so much mail flow and the possibility of throwing ballots for an alleged bad signature or late arrival.

“I don’t know what will happen to a postal vote in 2020,” Barber said. “It has become unnecessarily complicated.”

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