February 3, 2022
SALT LAKE CITY—Hoping to inform and elevate the debate about vote by mail, Sutherland Institute has released a new report, Examining the Evidence on Vote by Mail. Equipped with researched facts and evidence, policymakers and the public can engage in an informed policy debate about vote by mail – especially important at a time when advocates for a ballot initiative are seeking to eliminate it for most voters.
“The evidence of history, politics, and scholarly research about vote by mail means we are not limited by anecdotes and hypotheticals,” said Derek Monson, vice president of policy for Sutherland Institute and author of the new report. “In fact, the research shows that there is room for legitimate, nonpartisan debate about the merits of vote by mail, but we should be discussing and debating this issue with the best evidence available.”
The history of vote by mail in the United States extends back to the Civil War. Throughout that history, partisan support or opposition to vote by mail has tended to shift as perceptions of how it would help or hinder a political party’s presidential candidate evolved.
Rick Larsen, president and CEO of Sutherland, adds, “This report brings to light the fact that partisanship is the wrong place to begin as we explore questions and concerns over methods of voting. The starting point should be protecting the right to vote and establishing public trust in the process.”
Scholarly research suggests that: (1) vote by mail does not, on average, create electoral advantages for either political party, (2) vote by mail has a modest impact on overall voter turnout, and (3) vote by mail is not associated with significant, widespread voter fraud. Utah’s success implementing vote by mail over the span of a decade offers some possible reasons for these outcomes.
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