More than three-quarters of voters want the freedom to vote by mail, according to a recent poll by GOP pollsters Fabrizio, Lee & Associates. And they want the government to proactively help them get and cast their ballots.

The poll surveyed 1,000 registered voters across the country and included a nearly equal percentage of Republicans, Democrats and independents. Voters in the South—mostly a GOP stronghold—were a little more heavily represented (38 percent of respondents vs. 23 percent from the Midwest, 21 percent from the West and 18 percent from the Northeast).

The perils of COVID-19 are clearly weighing on voters’ minds. More than half of those polled are worried that COVID-19 will make in-person voting perilous, and 80 percent believe voters should have options other than voting in person.

Regarding ballot access, 76 percent of respondents believe all voters should be permitted to request an absentee ballot.

In order to get their ballots, 72 percent of voters thought they should be able to request ballots through a government website. Sixty-four percent of those polled thought government should send every registered voter a ballot without them having to request it.

To return their ballots, again, the public supported a variety of choices. More than eight in ten think polls should be open so long as polling places conform to safety guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control. More than three quarters desire the government to provide postage-paid envelopes with the ballots so they can return them via mail. Another 74 percent want voters to be permitted to submit their ballots in secure election drop boxes.

COVID-19 has raised the political salience of voting by mail, which has existed for decades and is secure against fraud. A 1986 law requires all states to send absentee ballots to military and overseas voters. For every other registered voter, policies vary. Five states send every registered voter a ballot, and 29 states allow voters to request absentee ballots without an excuse. The remaining 12 states will only give a voter a ballot by mail if he or she provides a legally acceptable excuse, such as a disability, that prevents one from going to a poll on election day.

Some states’ leaders have already moved to expand access to voting by mail due to COVID-19, which has disrupted some state presidential primaries and threatens to depress turnout in November’s general elections.

Last month’s $2 trillion CARES Act supplied $400 million to states to improve election security and support efforts to expand voting by mail. Congress is presently considering an additional COVID-19 relief bill, which would include additional elections-reform funds to cash-strapped states.

The Fabrizio, Lee & Associates poll largely tracks with a new poll by the Pew Research Center. That survey of nearly 5,000 Americans found 67 percent of them worried COVID-19 would disrupt voting in November. Seven in ten of those polled wanted anyone to be able to request an absentee ballot, which they could return by mail or deliver to a polling place or elections drop box.

Image credit:  Svanblar

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