While mail-in voting can be more fraud-prone than in-person voting, voter fraud is exceedingly rare and seldom tips the results of major elections, according to experts and reviews of elections. Trump, who has voted by mail himself in Florida, has also indicated that a big concern he has with a Democratic bill in Congress concerning more mail-in voting and other election issues was that “if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows that 33 percent of voters overall thought Democrats would be mostly helped by allowing all voters to cast mail-in ballots. Only 6 percent believed it would advantage Republicans more and 37 percent said it would help neither party more than the other.
When it comes to party identification, 47 percent of Republicans believed all-mail balloting would mostly help Democrats, compared with 27 percent of Democrats and 25 percent of independents who think this, the poll showed.
Republican fears were also more pronounced than that of independents and Democrats when respondents were asked which statement they agreed with more: Should the U.S. allow all voters to cast mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus; or should this not be allowed because it jeopardizes election security?
The poll showed 34 percent of Republicans said they would favor expanded mail-in balloting while 58 percent said they were more concerned with security. But 81 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of independents favored the expansion of mail-in voting while 10 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of independents were more concerned with security. Overall, voters favor mail-in voting in this scenario by 58 percent to 31 percent.
Voting by mail, however, can sound easier than it is. First-time voters tend to get tripped up by certain signature and verification requirements that can vary from state to state.
“The first time you do anything you’re going to make mistakes,” said political scientist Christopher Mann of Skidmore College, who studies mail-in voting.
In Florida, which requires that signatures on mail-in ballot envelopes match the voter’s signature on file with the county election supervisor, first-time voters have their ballots rejected at higher rates than experienced voters, who tend to be older, white and Republican, according to research by the University of Florida’s Dan Smith.
Democrats from Florida to Pennsylvania have taken heart in increases over Republicans in voter registration and mail-in voting requests, but Democrats often have lower return rates than Republicans.
“Converting those requests to actual votes is where the real work begins, and it’s a lot harder to do than it sounds,” said Ryan Tyson, a Republican consultant from Florida.
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The Florida and national Democratic parties say they’ve invested more money in outreach and education for voters that includes specialized instruction to help walk people through the process of requesting and properly voting a mail-in ballot.
Still, Democrats lost a special congressional election in California that was overwhelmingly all-mail. Democrats had a registration advantage over Republicans of 6.6 percentage points in California’s 25th Congressional District, but the GOP returned more ballots.
“Joe Biden supporters are barely intense enough to tweet about him,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). “The president’s supporters would gargle coronavirus-flavored ginger ale while waiting in a line to vote for him.”
However, Trump trails Biden in nearly every national and most battleground state polls, including Florida.
Heading into Tuesday’s primary in Pennsylvania, conservatives were crowing that Democrats were underperforming for Biden because more people were voting for Trump in the uncontested Republican primary compared to the Democratic contest. But Biden wound up getting 10 percent more votes than Trump. Democrats also point out that the turnout was huge in Georgia. And, in the April 7 Wisconsin primary, Democrats came out in force and won a contested state Supreme Court seat.
Democrats’ Wisconsin win came despite major troubles for black voters in Milwaukee, where all but five of 180 precincts closed due to coronavirus. In heavily black precincts, the total number of ballots cast between the February supreme court primary and the April 7 race increased by less than 40 percent while overall ballots in the state rose 119 percent, according to an analysis by Democratic data consultant Matt Isbell.
A return of coronavirus and the voter suppression that can happen with black and urban voters could swing the general election in Wisconsin, Isbell said. That’s true, he said, in other battleground states like Michigan, Pennsylvania or Florida, which Trump also carried narrowly in 2016.
“What we saw happen in Wisconsin, in Philadelphia, in Georgia is a warning sign,” Isbell said. “We need to get every Democrat an absentee ballot and make sure they cast it the right way.”
Morning Consult is a global data intelligence company, delivering insights on what people think in real time by surveying tens of thousands across the globe every single day.
More details on the poll and its methodology can be found in these two documents: Toplines | Crosstabs