Majority of Americans Now Believe Voters Should Be Able to Cast Ballots by Mail in Wake of Coronavirus Pandemic, Study Finds

The coronavirus pandemic could be creating a shift in the way that Americans view absentee voting and voting by mail, a new study has suggested.

The Center for Voter Information survey, which was conducted by Democracy Corps and saw 2,000 people across 16 battleground states polled, found that the majority of participants had embraced mail-in and absentee voting "regardless of the reason" for seeking the option.

Sixty-eight percent of participants in the survey, which was conducted between March 31 and April 5, said they supported the idea of everyone in their state receiving a vote-by-mail ballot, with 83 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of Republicans in agreement.

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Meanwhile, absentee voting options attracted even greater bipartisan support, with 73 percent in favor, including 85 percent of all Democrats and 59 percent of all Republicans.

Page Gardner, the founder and board chair of the Center for Voter Information, said she believed support for mail-in and absentee voting could be credited to the new difficulties that voters face in exercising their right to vote in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wisconsin
A resident waits in line to vote at a polling place at Riverside University High School on April 07, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Residents waited sometimes more than two hours to vote at the school, one of the few polling places open in the city after most were consolidated due to a shortage of poll workers fearful of contracting COVID-19. Scott Olson/Getty

"We are witnessing a giant shift in American's perceptions towards absentee voting and voting by mail. The pandemic has altered how people want to vote," Gardner said in a statement shared with Newsweek.

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"Americans are making clear that they want to participate in democracy safely, without being forced to choose between their health and the right to vote," Gardner said.

Indeed, in the wake of the pandemic, nearly half of participants in the poll (47 percent) said they planned to vote from home with a mail-in ballot in the upcoming November presidential election.

Participants reported feeling "anxious," "nervous," scared," lonely," and "depressed" due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, which has been connected to 26,059 deaths in the U.S. alone, according to an online tracker maintained by the Johns Hopkins University.

The below graph, provided by Statista, shows the number and spread of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

Statista
Statista

With Republicans and Supreme Court justices facing backlash for blocking efforts to postpone Wisconsin's recent primary election in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Gardner suggested that more people are thinking about the safety concerns election time will pose.

"With the Voter Participation Center, our partner organization, we run the nation's largest mail-based voter registration and turnout programs. In April alone, we will send nearly 12 million pieces of registration mail to prospective voters in 20 states," Gardner said. "What we've learned over the years is that Americans are looking for safe voting options."

"All states must offer a mail-in voting option and provide safe ways for voters to participate in primary and general elections in person, including early-vote options," Gardner asserted.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.
Majority of Americans Now Believe Voters Should Be Able to Cast Ballots by Mail in Wake of Coronavirus Pandemic, Study Finds | U.S.