Voting by Mail: An Examination of State and Local Experiences

Absentee Voting has increased dramatically over the past thirty years as a number of states have encouraged its use as a form of convenience voting rather than just a method of voting for those who have reason to be away from the polls. In the past fifteen years, early in person voting has also increased substantially. It is the leading alternative to absentee or mail voting as a form of convenience voting before Election Day. Through voting by mail and voting early in person, nearly one third of Americans voted prior to Election Day in 2008.

In this testimony, I will elaborate on seven key points.

  1. Absentee voting or voting by a mail ballot has expanded greatly over the past thirty years.

  2. Absentee voting is not the only form of early voting, as early in-person voting has also expanded dramatically in recent years.

  3. The variety of practices across the states is vast. Some have very little absentee or early voting. Others have a lot of one, but little of the other. And some states have a lot of both. And states that do have substantial early and absentee voting vary widely in how they conduct this voting.

  4. One great promise of voting before Election Day was that the convenience of such voting would increase voter turnout. But many studies have shown that there is little or no turnout increase from voting absentee or voting early in person.

  5. Aside from turnout, both early and absentee voting have often proved popular among voters and election officials when adopted.

  6. There are some potential negatives to absentee voting, which include the loss of the secret ballot and the possibility of coercion of votes, the greater opportunities for voter fraud from the transmission of the ballot, the possibility that mail ballots will not be properly counted, and the prospect that voting in advance of election day will cause voters to miss important campaign information and will diminish Election Day itself.

  7. There are practical aspects of voting by mail that are taken seriously by some states, but should be taken seriously by all states including tracking ballots, reading signatures, and informing voters if their votes have been counted.

Click here to read this testimony as an Adobe Acrobat PDF.

John C. Fortier is a research fellow at AEI.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

John C.
Fortier

What's new on AEI

Making Ryan's tax plan smarter
image The teacher evaluation confronts the future
image How to reform the US immigration system
image Inversion hysteria
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 01
    MON
  • 02
    TUE
  • 03
    WED
  • 04
    THU
  • 05
    FRI
Wednesday, September 03, 2014 | 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
From anarchy to Augustus: Lessons on dealing with disorder, from Rome’s first emperor

We invite you to join us for two panel discussions on how Augustus created order from chaos 2,000 years ago, and what makes for durable domestic and international political systems in the 21st century.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Multiple choice: Expanding opportunity through innovation in K–12 education

Please join us for a book launch event and panel discussion about how a marketplace of education options can help today's students succeed in tomorrow's economy. Attendees will receive a complimentary copy of the featured book.

Thursday, September 04, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
How conservatives can save the safety net

Please join us for a luncheon event in which our panel will discuss what conservatives can learn from how liberals talk and think about the safety net and where free-market economics, federalism, and social responsibility intersect to lift people out of poverty.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.