ELECTIONS

BYU study sees no advantage for either party in mail-in voting

Aug 27, 2020, 8:54 AM

Image of a person voting by mail in Utah. After a Utah lawmaker suggested that voters should have t...

FILE- A employee at the Utah County Election office puts mail in ballots into a container to register the vote in the midterm elections on November 6, 2018 in Provo, Utah. (George Frey/Getty Images)

(George Frey/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah — A BYU study looking at 40 years of voting history found mail-in voting did not change the outcome of political races.

But they did find it increased overall voter turnout by about 2 to 3 percentage points.

“We were surprised at how consistent our results were,” said study co-author and BYU political science professor Michael Barber in a news release.

They looked at more than 40 million records in California, Colorado, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah and Washington when vote-by-mail systems had become mandatory.

Washington and Utah both use statewide mail-in voting. Washington is a traditionally democratic state, and Utah is traditionally republican.

The researchers say they found no evidence that mailing in a ballot increased the edge for either party.

“There are beliefs—I think incorrect beliefs—that voters who favor the Democratic Party tend to be less motivated to turn out to vote, so if you make it easier to vote you’ll get more of that group. It turns out not to be the case,” Barber said.

They say it was not surprising to see increased voter turnout. That’s because they say vote-by-mail is more convenient, and voters have more time to study the ballot and issues.

“Whether you’re advocating for vote-by-mail because you think it’s going to be really good for your party or advocating against it because you think it’s going to be bad for your party, you’re probably wasting your time,” Barber concluded.

 


Opinion: In-person voting during a pandemic is dumb

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BYU study sees no advantage for either party in mail-in voting