Confidence in mail-in ballots

I’ve been looking at the results from our Pew/MIT survey on the election experience from last November.  A battery of questions asks about support for a range of election reforms.  One of those reforms is to “run all elections by mail.”  Nationwide, only 16% of respondents supported all-mail elections.  However, in the two west-coast states that have gone the furthest toward all-mail ballots, support for all-mail ballots was 66% in Oregon and 53% in Washington.

The interesting thing, though, is the degree of confidence in the vote count.  In Oregon, for instance, 69% of respondents who said they supported all-mail ballots were “very confident” their ballots were counted as cast; among those who opposed all-mail ballots, only 52% were “very confident.”  In Washington, 68% of all-mail supporters (who voted by mail) were very confident, compared to only 55% of all-mail opponents (who voted by mail).

Nationwide, where mail-in voters were much more likely to be doing so purely out of choice, there was no relationship between support or opposition to having all-mail ballots and being very confident votes were counted as cast.

There is a lot to chew on in these results.  The different levels of support for all-mail ballots in Oregon compared to the rest of the nation is evidence that “the proof of the pudding is in the tasting” when it comes to election reforms.  When you live in a state with all-mail balloting only, you are significantly more likely to support this method of voting.  Still, one cost is a lower level of trust among those who believe the state should still run elections on Election Day.