Key takeaways from the 2022 primaries (so far)

  • Vote-at-home states (OR, NV, and CA, and the mail-in special primary in AK) and states offering extensive access to mail ballots are outperforming others, averaging 32% turnout. This is compared to states that require an excuse to vote absentee or voters to apply for a mail-in ballot every election, which are averaging 19% and 22% respectively.
  • Nebraska, although not a vote-at-home state, has 11 counties voting entirely by mail. Turnout in those counties averaged 55%, more than 20% higher than the remainder of the state.
  • Similarly, North Dakota’s 42 vote-by-mail counties are averaging greater than 6% higher than its 11 polling-place counties.
  • Nearly 90% of the votes cast in Montana were from mailed-out ballots. Turnout from voters receiving those ballots was 55% versus 12% by polling-place voters.
  • Oregon, a full vote-at-home state is also a “closed primary” state, meaning only Republicans and Democrats can participate in their respective party elections. Turnout for Republicans and Democrats both exceeded 50%. Those rates are more than double the total turnout in many states where all voters were eligible to participate.

Power of mailed-out ballots clear in May primaries

2022 primary election turnout as of June 1, 2022.
  • Oregon, a model vote-at-home state, has experienced the greatest overall turnout thus far at 37%.
  • Turnout in Nebraska’s 11 full vote-at-home counties was more than 20 percentage points higher on average than the state’s total turnout. 

With over a quarter of the 2022 primaries in the books, one trend is unmistakable: states and jurisdictions that automatically mail ballots to their voters experience higher turnout than states with more restrictive mail-ballot access.  

Oregon, with its full “vote at home” model in which all active registered voters are mailed their ballots automatically for every election, shows the highest turnout of any state to date at 37.1%. This is more than 10% higher than the average for the remaining 12 states that have held primaries to date. 

Even more striking is turnout in the Democratic and Republican primaries. Oregon is a “closed primary” state, meaning only Republicans and Democrats can participate in their respective party elections. Turnout currently stands at about 53% for Republicans and 50% for Democrats. Those rates are more than double the total turnout in many states where all voters were eligible to participate. 

“When ballots are placed directly in the hands of voters, they turn out,” said Lori Augino, executive director for National Vote at Home Institute and former Washington state elections director. “Automatically mailing a ballot to voters several weeks before the election gives them the time and convenience they need to vote, without having to overcome unnecessary barriers like requesting a mail ballot or obtaining a witness or notary signature.” 

Comparing other major “closed” primaries, the most relevant may be Pennsylvania, with several scorching statewide races in play, including the gubernatorial and Senate contests. Total turnout was well below Oregon’s, coming in at 30%, and party-specific turnout was also far less with about 39% for Republicans and 32% for Democrats. 

About 5% behind Oregon’s overall turnout and holding the second-highest primary turnout to date is Nebraska, an open-primary state with 11 counties using the vote-at-home model in which every active registered voter is automatically mailed a ballot. Those counties came in at an average 55% turnout, more than 20 percentage points higher than the statewide total. 

StateMailed-out ballot policyClosed or Open primaryTotal 2022 primary turnoutRepublican Party turnoutDemocratic Party turnout
OregonVote-at-home (VAH)Closed37%53%50%
PennsylvaniaNo-excuse absenteeClosed30%39%32%
Nebraska*No-excuse absenteeOpen33%40%29%
*NE 11 VAH counties onlyVote-at-home (VAH)Open 55%55%

Sources: Secretaries of state websites and published media reports.

Almost a third of the states had lower than 20% turnout. 

All except North Carolina require voters to have an excuse to obtain a mailed-out ballot, and North Carolina’s witness/notary requirements create an additional obstacle for people to vote using mail ballots. 

StateMailed-out ballot policyTotal 2022 primary turnout
IndianaExcuse required14.0%
TexasExcuse required 19.0%
KentuckyExcuse required 19.0%
North CarolinaNo-excuse absentee, but requires two witnesses or a notary 19.7%

Sources: Secretaries of state websites and published media reports.

“The key difference between these states and those with greater turnout are their policies on access to mailed-out ballots,” said Augino. “Unfortunately, these states impose additional barriers to voters in obtaining mail ballots, which makes voting less convenient and ultimately discourages participation.”

 

The National Vote At Home Institute on Florida Advancing Voting Rights

Tallahassee, FL- The National Vote at Home Institute has released a statement addressing the success of the 2020 election while also looking forward to the new challenges in voting that we face as a nation. Now is not the time for Florida to go backward.

According to recent national polling from Voting Rights Lab (VRL) that included Floridians, the American people are pleased with these policies as well. The NVAHI team issued the following as seven clear policies that can be passed to improve voting access in Florida:

  • Maintain and improve the single sign-up process for mail-in voting: According to national polling, 74% majority of Americans believe that all voters should have the option of voting using an absentee ballot in future elections, including majorities of Republicans (62%), independents (78%), and Democrats (86%).
  • Improve ballot tracking and voter notification: Allowing voters to track their ballot like an Amazon package is also cost-effective and can be seamlessly integrated into many voter registration systems. State bill H 103 would make significant progress in providing ballot tracking for Floridians if passed.
  • Create an online mail ballot request system
    • Provide postage-paid return envelopes: 73% of Americans support including pre-paid postage on absentee return envelopes. Florida bill H 103 would enact this rule.
  • Improve data integrity and infrastructure
  • Allow Election Day postmark acceptance: 60% of American’s oppose rejecting ballots mailed before Election Day but arriving later.
  • Increase options for ballot return: 70% of Americans approve of changes to increase voting options while only 26% disapprove.

To learn more about The National Vote At Home Institute and how the organization is changing the face of voting rights, visit www.voteathome.org

National Vote At Home Institute on Passing of SB202 in Georgia

WASHINGTON—The National Vote At Home Institute has released a statement following the passing of Senate Bill 202 in the Georgia State Legislature that was signed into law by Gov. Kemp last week: “Senate Bill 202 is a massive missed opportunity to move Georgia forward and build on the record participation of the 2020 election. The […]

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National Vote At Home Institute Denounces the President’s Continued Attacks on Democracy and Affirms Their Mission to Protect American Elections

DENVER — The American people have continued to exercise their right to vote despite ongoing disinformation campaigns to overturn a free and fair election. As President Trump continues his public calls to undermine our constitution, democracy, and election systems, the National Vote At Home Institute released the following statement:  “The President’s false claims continue to […]

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Voters Decide, Not Arbitrary Timelines

DENVER—Earlier today, the President displayed his lack of constitutional and election administration knowledge by, yet again spreading misinformation about the counting of ballots and the timeline of a presidential election. His remarks do nothing more than sow doubt in our strong elections system and confuse voters on what they should expect November 3 and beyond.  […]

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Election Workers Are the Backbone of the American Election System

DENVER—Today, President Trump pivoted his misinformation campaign around vote-at-home options by claiming that election officials and poll workers — those who count ballots after they are cast — will be the cause for a miscount during the general election. In doing so, he removed potential blame he had previously placed on the United States Postal Service. 

Without evidence, the President stated that, “The problem is when they dump all these [ballots] in front of a few people who are counting them, and they’re going to count them wrong. The post office is not to blame.”

In regard to his claims, the National Vote At Home Institute released the following statement: 

“Election workers are some of the most dutiful people in our country. Election administrators take an oath before assuming their office and are committed to making our patchwork election system work in communities across the nation. They do this work alongside poll workers of all different backgrounds — our neighbors and friends — who come together to carry out one of our most sacred democratic traditions. In order to do so, they commit their mornings, nights, and weekends to ensure that ballots cast are ballots counted. The fact that they have now come under attack is completely unacceptable, and Americans cannot let them become victims of a misinformation campaign. In fact, we urge Americans to join their neighbors in becoming poll workers and to invest themselves in the process of making every vote count. Without election workers, our election system would be impossible to administer, and they deserve the utmost respect and support.”