It’s easier than ever to vote this year, thanks to actions by cities and states to facilitate mail ballots and early voting. Some are getting quite creative, like the “Vote Mobile” trailers in Santa Cruz, CA, and drive-through voting in Harris County, TX.
As we approach the 2020 election during a pandemic that is causing many to not want to vote in person, 34 states have taken actions to make it easier to vote, mostly by facilitating voting by mail or early in-person. According to a recent report by Fulcrum News, nine states are mailing absentee ballots to all registered voters, twelve others have made it easier to justify the request for an absentee ballot and ten are mailing absentee ballot requests to all voters. A recent Washington Post article calculates that 84% of the nation’s voters can vote by mail without an excuse this year.
A study two years ago by the Center for American Progress examined the reasons for eligible voters not voting and what measures could help. According to the study, between 54-64% of eligible adults have voted in the past several presidential elections, with 60% citing reasons related to the voting process itself (the remaining 40% listed reasons like not liking the candidates or not being motivated).
The above study listed several steps that states could take to ease voting, along with projections of the number of voters that could be generated nationwide with some of these changes. Automated voter registration like that used in Oregon, for example, could result in 22 million new registered voters nationwide and other strategies could bring in millions more. Here are the strategies promoted by the report:
- Automatic voter registration
- Same-day voter registration
- Online registration
- Early voting
- No-excuse absentee voting
- Vote-at-home with vote centers
- Restore rights for formerly incarcerated people
- Strengthen civics education in schools
- Invest in integrated voter engagement and outreach
On top of these strategies, which are mostly statewide, local governments are adding many more tools to make voting easy, like those in Santa Cruz and Harris County. All in all, these changes should help to counteract the dampening effect of COVID-19 and result in a record-breaking turnout. Let’s hope that tabulating the results goes well too!