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Most Americans Support Vote by Mail During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Three out of five Americans support efforts to allow them to mail in ballots

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A majority of Americans (60%) support efforts to make it easier to vote by mail in the upcoming November election, including majorities in 46 states, according to the latest report from an ongoing survey of Americans’ attitudes about issues related to the coronavirus pandemic,

The survey, conducted by IPR political scientist James Druckman as part of a consortium of four universities that includes Northwestern, Harvard, Northeastern, and Rutgers, found widespread support for such measures directly linked to fears of getting COVID-19.

Druckman said that “It seems that the majority of Americans support allowing vote by mail and that support stems in part from concerns about COVID-19 preventing them from otherwise voting.”

Indeed, people who reported being “somewhat” or “very” concerned about getting COVID-19 were significantly more likely to support voting by mail (67%) compared to those who did not share those concerns (48%)—a pattern that held across party lines.

The researchers also showed that “a considerable proportion of Americans say they would be more likely to vote if mail were an option,” and that majorities of respondents in all but three states—South Carolina, Arkansas, and Mississippi—said they felt confident in their knowledge of how to do so. More highlights of the survey data are below, and click here to read the full report.

  • Overall, 80% of Democrats supported making it easier to vote by mail, with 5% opposing; for Republicans, it was 45% supported and 32% opposed it. More than half of Independents, also supported greater access to mail-in balloting (56% support, 14% oppose).
  • African Americans (46%), Hispanics (42%), and Asian Americans (41%) were more likely to vote if mail were an option, compared to 32% of whites.
  • For adults between 25 and 44, 44% of those under 25 and 41% of those between 25 and 44 report that they are “not at all” or “not very” confident that they know how the process works.
  • For those concerned a family member may become sick from COVID-19, 65% of them supported voting by mail compared to 43% who did not have such concerns.
  • Among Americans who said they trusted Donald Trump, 46% supported an easier vote by mail process. Among those who did not trust the current president, 73% were in favor of easier mail-in ballots.
  • Strong supporters of making vote by mail easier are, on average, 14 percentage points more likely than those who strongly opposed it to report following public health guidelines meant to slow the spread of COVID-19.

James Druckman is the Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science and IPR Associate Director. Read the complete report. Photo credit: Bryan Alexander, Flickr.

Published: May 29, 2020.