Voter Opinions about Election Reform: Do They Support Making Voting More Convenient?

Specific Elections: 
Working Paper No.: 
98
Date Published: 
07/14/2010
Author(s): 
Charles Stewart III
MIT
Ines Levin

We study public opinions about convenience voting reforms, using a unique state-by-state survey conducted in the 2008 presidential election. Our analysis of the American voting public’s support for potential convenience voting reforms provides a variety of important insights into the potential direction of innovations in the electoral process in the near future. First, we find that the most prominent convenience voting reforms have mixed support. These include attitudes toward automatic voter registration, Election Day voter registration, and moving Election Day to
a weekend. These reforms do not have majority support among all voters in the United States but there are some states where these reforms do have majority support and could be implemented. Second, we find that Internet voting and voting-by-mail do not receive a great deal of support from American voters. There was no state where Internet voting was supported by a majority of voters and there were no states that do not already have expanded vote by mail (Washington and Oregon) where expanded vote by mail had majority support.
Finally, we find that a majority of Americans support requiring showing photo identification (overwhelming support) and making Election Day a holiday (bare majority support).

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