The COVID-19 pandemic is leading many states to expand vote-by-mail access for upcoming elections in 2020. The shift presents significant new challenges for campaigners. Strategic questions, including how is voter turnout affected, which voters will participate, and how might the new method affect voting behavior, have become top of mind for candidates and their teams in 2020.
Some election officials have indicated that a broader shift to vote-by-mail must get underway soon if it is to be in place by November. In Wisconsin, dozens of COVID-19 cases were reported after that state’s presidential primary proceeded in person in April. The changes to mail voting procedures can run the gamut from no-excuse absentee voting and relaxed voter ID requirements to proactively mailing ballots to all voters and elimination of in-person voting altogether.
To help campaigners better formulate their responses to potential shifts, this article highlights key findings from academic research about voting by mail.