CL Shebley/

6 in 10 Likely Voters Support Voting by Mail

A new survey finds that 66% of likely voters support voting by mail for all Americans for the November election and just 22% oppose that idea.

In a new national survey, 64% of Americans who plan to cast a ballot in the November election say they support making it easier to vote by mail.

The survey also reveals that 66% of likely voters support giving every American the right to vote by mail in November. Just 22% oppose the idea.

“Overall, a majority of Americans support giving every eligible voter the right to cast a ballot by mail,” says coauthor Katherine Ognyanova, an assistant professor of communication at Rutgers University’s School of Communication and Information.

“Health concerns, crowded polling stations, and long wait times will likely dissuade many people from voting in person this November.”

The researchers surveyed 19,052 people across all 50 states plus the District of Columbia from July 10 to July 26, polling participants on their support for voting by mail, and likelihood to vote by absentee or mail-in ballot this November.

Of the respondents, 41% said they were “very likely” and 23% said they were “somewhat likely” to vote by mail in November.

Researchers say the comparison with 2016, when voters cast a historically high 21% of votes by mail, highlights the potential for an enormous change.

“There are only seven states where most people voted by absentee or mail-in ballot in 2016—Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Utah, and Washington,” says Katya. “The unprecedented scale of the potential use of voting by mail in 2020 presents challenges for some states in November.”

For instance, in New York State, 63% of respondents says they are likely to vote by mail in 2020—a significant increase from 2016, when only 5% of New Yorkers voted by mail. In New Jersey, 70% of respondents says they are likely to vote by mail in 2020—a significant increase from 2016, when 5% of New Jerseyans did so.

The experience of this spring’s primary elections, in which many states struggled with processing votes received by mail, is also a worrisome harbinger for the general election, the researchers say.

“In the midst of a global pandemic, we find many Americans are planning to cast their ballots by mail this November,” says Ognyanova.

“Most states need to prepare for a volume of mail votes that will be orders of magnitude larger than anything they have seen before. We should all be ready for the possibility that it may take days or even weeks before we have the results from this presidential election.”

The survey comes out of the COVID-19 Consortium for Understanding the Public’s Policy Preferences Across States, a joint project of Rutgers University, Northeastern University, Harvard University, and Northwestern University. The consortium has released eight reports and has charted public opinion related to COVID-19 topics since late April.

Source: Rutgers University