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Bipartisan Support for Expanded Mail Voting for 2020 Elections

There is strong bipartisan consensus on the need to expand mail voting in the face of the current pandemic.

Published: April 15, 2020

In the face of the current pandemic, there is no question that widespread use of mail voting is necessary to hold free, fair, and safe elections. The American public, from across the political spectrum, broadly supports increased mail voting this year.

Yet President Trump has criticized the practice saying: “Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to state wide mail-in voting. Democrats are clamoring for it. Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.” Contrary to President Trump’s protestations, mail voting is secure and does not harm  Republicans (who vote by mail at high rates) or any other constituency. And he is incorrect that Republicans do not support expanded use of mail ballots this year.

In fact, there is strong bipartisan consensus on the issue. Democratic political leaders have been near-unanimous in their call for expanding mail voting. And as we document below, with selected quotes, reporting, and polling, it enjoys widespread support among Republican election officials, political leaders, and voters.

Table of Contents

Republican Voters Support Mail Voting Option

  • 72% of all U.S. adults said that they would support a requirement for mail in ballots as a way to protect voters, including 65% of Republicans, according to a Reuters poll conducted in early April 2020.—
  • A Brennan Center/Benenson poll conducted on March 22–24, 2020 found that four out of five Americans believe states should give all voters the option of voting mail ballots without having to provide an excuse during the November election. 57% of Republicans surveyed agreed that “all states should be required to allow vote by mail or unexcused absentee ballots to ensure people can vote with ease and without being in long lines or crowds.”

Republican Party Leaders Promote Mail Voting

Republican Elected Political Leaders Support Mail Voting

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts (R)

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R)

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu (R)

  • When announcing a guidance memo to address voting during the pandemic, Sununu said: “Number one, the ability for folks to vote absentee if they so choose, based on the COVID-19 epidemic, and our state has an immense amount of flexibility. Basically, if you feel more comfortable voting absentee because of the outbreak, or your inability, or nervousness just about appearing in person to vote, you can vote absentee and obtain an absentee ballot. So, we have a very flexible system.”—

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R)

Republican Mayors in Wisconsin

Republican Leadership in Alaska

Republican Chief Election Officials

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman (R)

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R)

  • In response to a tweet by President Trump that mail voting increases the risk of “crime and VOTER FRAUD,” Secretary LaRose said, “I can tell you that’s not the case in Ohio. As I’ve said, we’re fortunate that we’ve been doing vote by mail for a long time. We know how to do it, and we know how to get it done securely.”—
  • In an April 9th video promoting the state’s first all-mail elections, Secretary LaRose said: “I reject this notion that I think comes from days gone by, when people say it’s not good for Republicans when there’s high turnout. The highest turnout presidential election we ever had was 2016. The highest turnout gubernatorial election we ever had was 2018.”—
  • A statement from Maggie Sheehan, Secretary LaRose’s spokesperson, reads: “Though we are preparing for every possible scenario, our expectation and hope is that we’ll be able to have a normal election in November. That said, it’s fortunate that Ohio has a long history of running secure elections, and that includes decades of voting by mail. From voter-specific ballot tracking and frequently maintained voter rolls to security measures at county boards of elections where ballots are handled and stored by a bipartisan team of election officials, Ohioans can be confident that their vote-by-mail ballots are as safe and secure as the votes cast on Election Day.”—

Utah Director of Elections Justin Lee (R)

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R)

West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner (R)

Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams (R)

  • “It’s my concern, after an exhaustive process of consultation with our county clerks, the State Board of Elections and others, that we need to at least be prepared to have an expanded absentee balloting system available by June 23,” Adams said in a press release. “I’d like us to be able to prepare in advance for a situation where we have limited in-person voting and expanded voting by mail.”—
  • On April 24, when announcing the plan for expanded mail voting for Kentucky’s primary, Secretary Adams said, “Voters across the political spectrum will be pleased with this plan to protect both democracy and public health. I’m grateful to Governor Beshear for his leadership, and his working in good faith with me toward ensuring a successful and safe election.”—

Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno (R)

Republican Local Election Officials Ask for Additional Funding

  • In a letter to Congress, local election officials, dozens of whom are Republican, called for Congress to allocate funding to enable election officials to make the adjustments needed to the election system to run safe, secure and resilient elections in the face of the coronavirus.—
  • Lisa Marra, president of the Elections Officials of Arizona, and Virginia Ross, president of the Arizona Recorders Association—both membership groups that represent election officials in all 15 counties in Arizona—co-authored an op-ed calling for expanded mail voting options: “As election professionals, we are committed to ensuring that the rest of the elections in 2020 are accurate, secure and safe for voters, anticipating the COVID-19 pandemic could continue requirements around social distancing for the remainder of the year. On behalf of the Arizona Recorders Association and the Election Officials of Arizona, we believe it is crucial that the Legislature extend our ability to hold ballot-by-mail elections for state and federal elections, a practice already authorized for jurisdictional elections. It is the best way to ensure Arizona voters are safe during this pandemic and have the certainty of the continuity of our democracy.”—

Additional Key Reporting