Voting by mail: Can the postal service get the job done?

August 19, 2020, 7:39 PM UTC

Most voters have at least some confidence in the United States Postal Service, however those poised to vote for President Donald Trump in November have doubts.

The latest Economist/YouGov Poll shows 44 percent of the president’s voters express little or no confidence in the ability of the USPS to do its job while only one in 10 (10%) of Joe Biden voters feel the same way. 

Not only do those who are voting for President Trump and supporters Biden think differently about the postal service (as well as many other things), they’ll also vote differently. In this week’s poll, a majority of Biden supporters (55%) expect to cast a vote by mail this year, while a majority of the president’s supporters (54%) plan to vote in person on election day. That was also true in an Economist/YouGov Poll conducted earlier this month. 

Various state-level mail-in ballot procedures could be the culprit. Just 17 percent of those who live in states that require an excuse to receive an absentee ballot will vote by mail. More (27%) in those states say they will vote before election day, but will do so in person. But clearly, Trump supporters are dubious about the ability of USPS to deliver their votes, and they are also doubtful about the entire election process. About eight in 10 (79%) of them believe that mail voting increases fraud, something only 14 percent of Biden supporters think.  

Half of those supporting Trump (51%) have little or no confidence that the postal service will be able to deliver mail-in ballots on time to be counted, also something Trump has been arguing and the postal service has warned states could happen. They also have less confidence than Biden voters that their votes will be counted accurately (44%), and that the election will be held fairly. (29% ) 

While Biden voters are more positive about the election process, they have their most doubt about the fairness of the election. Just over a third of Biden voters (36%) have a great deal or quite a bit of confidence a fair election  will happen, while nearly half (46%) have that much confidence in timely mail delivery, and a majority (59%) have quite a bit of confidence their own vote will be counted accurately. 

Methodology: The latest Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US registered voters interviewed online between August 16 – 18, 2020. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.4% for the overall sample.

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Image: Getty