Most Americans approve of voting by mail, but concerns about voter fraud trouble Republicans

May 15, 2020, 8:00 PM GMT+0

A third of Americans have voted by mail in the past, and in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll most registered voters say they won’t be going to the polls on Election Day this November. Instead, they will either vote by mail (39%) or vote in person before November 3 (20%).

Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say they will vote by mail this year. Three of the five states that require vote by mail (Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Colorado, and Utah) have been reliably Democratic in Presidential Elections. The heavily Democratic California—while not requiring vote by mail—will mail absentee ballots to every registered voter for the fall election). Half of Republicans (51%) will also take advantage of one of the two ways of voting early, though just a quarter of Republicans (26%) plan to use absentee ballots.

Even though many Americans plan to use mail ballots, there is a certain amount of concern associated with them, a concern more likely to be felt by Republicans. It’s possible they are following the lead of President Donald Trump, who has made it very clear that he believes voter fraud occurs and that vote by mail hurts Republicans. Republicans in this poll overwhelmingly think vote by mail increases voter fraud (72%), as do three in 10Democrats (30%).

It makes a difference if someone personally has used vote by mail. Among both Republicans and Democrats there is less concern about fraud among those who have actually voted by mail themselves.

Republicans generally worry more about all types of possible voter fraud. After Democratic victories in the 2018 midterm, nearly two in five Republicans (39%) in a mid-November Economist/YouGov Poll believed there was “a lot” of voter fraud that year. Just one in nine Democrats (11%) said the same. In this poll, Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to see “a lot” of voter fraud in mailed ballots (59% to 18%), but they also are more likely to find a lot of fraud in in-person voting (23% to 15%).

It’s no surprise, then, that Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to approve of voting by mail. Those who have voted by mail overwhelmingly approve (82%) – including those Republicans (65%) who have previously done so.