In this research, we examine the difference between five vote-by-mail policies in place in the 2018 midterm elections. We use statistical modeling to understand the effects of different vote-by-mail policies nationwide and estimate what might have changed in 2018 based on different voting systems. In general, we find that turnout increases as states move along the vote-by-mail policy continuum, removing administrative obstacles for voters in the process. Additionally, turnout gains are largest when counties progress several steps from more restrictive policies to less restrictive policies, and the Vote at Home policy has the most potential to impact young voters.
“The 2020 elections presented unique challenges and opportunities that fueled a meteoric rise in the use of vote-by-mail (VBM). Since the 1800s, absentee ballots by mail have been part of our democracy. For most of that history, voters were typically required to provide an excuse for casting an absentee ballot. But in the 1980s, California introduced an expansive policy that opened VBM to all voters. By 2016, 27 states adopted a similar voting policy. By 2020, hastened by the COVID-19 pandemic, 34 states allowed voters to request mail ballots without providing an excuse. Deliver My Vote Education Fund (DMVEF) examined VBM trends in five key states (Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Wisconsin) from 2016 to 2020 to understand this massive shift in VBM use. Voters of all backgrounds embraced VBM as a safe way to vote during the pandemic, while also realizing the remarkable convenience.”
The following report outlines the most current research on the inclusion of these populations in existing VAH systems, as well as the elements in those systems that must be maintained in any new implementation models in order to increase that inclusion. As more states adopt these measures, we will continue to evaluate their impact on voters to close access gaps as much as possible.
Foreword: “This report was prepared in response to Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s Executive Order No. 64 issued in February 2018, directing “an analysis of the potential methods and requirements to implement voting by mail for all local, state and federal elections.” The report was prepared with assistance from the National Vote at Home Institute (NVAHI), a 501(c)(3) organization, at the request of and under the direction of the Office of the Governor and the Office of Policy and Management, and in consultation with the Office of the Secretary of the State.”