Research Questions: “In its first year of implementation, did the Voter’s Choice Act (VCA) change turnout patterns in the counties – Madera, Napa, Nevada, Sacramento, and San Mateo – that adopted this new reform? How did this reform affect the turnout of groups of Californians – young voters, Latinos, and Asian Americans– who have often participated in elections at lower rates than others? We address these questions by gathering data on turnout rates, voter demographics, and electoral competition from 2002 through the primary and general elections of 2018, comparing trends in the adopting counties to the rest of the state.”
This research finds that, in addition to higher overall turnout, down-ballot turnout was higher in Vote At Home optional precincts than in polling place only precincts, even after controlling for other differences. Overall, this research indicates that Vote At Home is a boon to civic participation at all levels of the ballot when measuring by the important metric of raw vote totals.
This research finds that expansion of vote at home systems increases turnout and reduces ballot roll-off.
Abstract: “A central question in the study of democratic governance concerns the conditions under which voters make informed choices at the ballot box. I exploit the staggered implementation of an electoral reform in a U.S. state to study the effects of electoral institutions on voter information and political accountability. I find that [vote at home] elections cause an increase in turnout in municipal elections and a decrease in ballot roll-off on statewide ballot measures in presidential election years in some counties, which is largely consistent with my argument that voters gather more information about politics when voting by mail. Further, there is strong evidence that vote-by-mail results in a decrease in taxing and spending in municipalities. The institution has less conclusive effects on municipal accountability audit outcomes. Using data from the Catalist voter file I show that these results cannot be explained by changes in the composition of the electorate caused by vote-by-mail.”
Analysis of voter turnout in the 2014 midterm election in Colorado shows that low-propensity voters, including young voters, significantly overperformed their predicted turnout levels. This report also contains analyses of predicted versus actual turnout among various subgroups, including those based on demographics, partisanship, and vote history. While not conclusive, the evidence generated by these analyses supports the assertion that Colorado’s universal vote-by-mail system — which debuted in 2014 — likely played a role in increasing turnout.
In 2013, Colorado implemented an all-mail voting system. America Votes Colorado has inquired into whether the change has impacted voter turnout patterns. Below you’ll find voter turnout estimates in 2010 and 2014, broken out by race and voting method, allowing for comparison across comparable elections before and after the all mail system was implemented.