Doug Chapin of the Pew Center on the States sent me this story from Nebraska. Like yesterday’s posting of DiCamillo’s article, the Nebraska pieces notes the dramatically different turnout rates for low level contests (in this case, non candidate ballot measures) when using vote by mail.
Interestingly, the story tries to cite a quasi-experimental demonstration of the effect. A local school board bond issue was voted on in three counties without voting by mail, and turnout was 35% (the bond lost with 81% voting no). A prison bond issue in a neighboring county was conducted fully by mail, and turnout was 49% (the percent voting no was not reported).
Of course, the problem with this comparison is that the issue on the ballot varied, not just the method of voting.
What we need to find in Nebraska is a multi-county issue where some voted by mail and others in person. Any ambitious graduate students out there at Lincoln?