A more efficient U.S. Postal Service can increase voter turnout in all states regardless of their mail voting laws, according to a Washington State University study.
WSU researcher Michael Ritter analyzed election data from 2012 through 2020, when the pandemic encouraged many more people than usual to vote by mail. He found that in general more accessible mail voting laws, such as universal mail-in voting and no-excuse mail voting, increased the probability that individuals would vote. Restrictive laws, such as requiring a witness’s signature or identification for mail-in ballots, had a negative effect.
Faster postal service helped increase the likelihood of voting especially in those restrictive states—raising the probability individuals would vote by 3.42%.
“Across the board, this study shows that having better postal administration makes it more likely there will be more positive voter turnout outcomes linked to all mail voting laws,” said Ritter, lead author of the study published in the Election Law Journal. “But in states that have the most restrictive mail voting laws, having better postal administration makes a huge difference—it may not seem huge, but for individuals who sometimes are on the fence about voting by mail or not voting at all, it can tip the balance.”