One of my pet peeves over the past few years has been the number of people who claim, without any empirical evidence, that voting by mail increases turnout.
As I’ve blogged here many times, the evidence from Oregon is pretty clear. Voting by mail increases turnout in low profile elections by drawing in voters who otherwise might not bother to come to the polling place. It does not increase turnout by expanding the electorate (as if often implied). And it has nothing to do with Oregon’s impressive 80% plus turnout–Oregonians have turned out at better than an 80% clip for decades.
In this letter in the Arizona Republic, the state director of “Your Right to Vote” claims that voting by mail has increased turnout in Oregon “threefold.”
I have already written a brief letter to the editor, pointing out that turnout in 1996 was 88% (the last presidential contest before voting by mail), while it was 85% in the 2004 contest.