Study Finds Vote-by-Mail Doesn’t Benefit One Party More Than Another, Striking Down GOP Talking Point

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President Donald Trump and Republicans have repeatedly disparaged vote-by-mail options in response to criticisms from voting rights advocates who’ve expressed safety concerns during the coronavirus pandemic.

But a new study from Stanford University’s Democracy and Polarization Lab has found that contrary to the widely-held belief among the GOP that vote-by-mail gives Democrats an advantage over Republicans, vote-by-mail options do not benefit one party more than another.

“By comparing counties that adopt a vote-by-mail program to counties within the same state that do not adopt the program, we are able to compare the election outcomes and turnout behavior of voters who have different vote-by-mail accessibility but who have the same set of candidates on the ballot for statewide races,” researchers wrote.

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The study abstract also highlights the following conclusions:

“We collect data from 1996-2018 on all three U.S. states who implemented vote-by-mail in a staggered fashion across counties, allowing us to use a difference-in-differences design at the county level to estimate the causal effect of vote-by-mail programs. We find that: (1) vote-by-mail does not appear to affect either party’s share of turnout; (2) vote-by-mail does not appear to increase either party’s vote share; and (3) vote-by-mail modestly increases overall average turnout rates, in line with previous estimates. All three conclusions support the conventional wisdom of election administration experts and contradict many popular claims in the media.”

Earlier studies did yield similar results, but as the Stanford researchers point out, their study “permits a stronger research design than was previously possible and … our data set runs through the 2018 midterm elections, allowing for the most up-to-date analysis available.”

You can read the complete study HERE.

The results of the study come the same week that former First Lady Michelle Obama and her voting rights group When We All Vote have thrown their support behind vote-by-mail options amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is nothing partisan about striving to live up to the promise of our country; making the democracy we all cherish more accessible; and protecting our neighbors, friends and loved ones as they participate in this cornerstone of American life,” she said in a statement provided to Axios.

Earlier this week, Trump claimed vote-by-mail “is a terrible, terrible thing,” adding that “There’s a lot of dishonesty going on with mail-in voting, mail-in ballots.”

Election fraud is actually very rare, as multiple sources, including the Brennan Center for Justice, have noted.