Why has President Trump relentlessly attacked the opportunities of Americans to vote by mail? Putting aside his baseless claims about voter fraud, efforts to curtail registered
voters from casting a ballot prior to Election Day could, in fact, limit more knowledgeable voters from turning out to vote in November.
Well before the COVID-19 pandemic made it public health necessity, a growing number of
states had been expanding ways for registered voters to cast ballots prior to Election Day, either in person or by mail. Drawing on five Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) pre- and post-election national surveys, as well as an original survey of registered voters in Florida, Enrijeta Shino and I find in our new article, “Political Knowledge and Convenience Voting,” in Elections, Public Opinion & Parties, that more politically knowledgeable voters are significantly more likely to cast their ballots before Election Day.
Why might more knowledgeable voters be willing to cast their ballot early? Won’t they possibly miss the unearthing of a scandalous 11th hour event that could tip their decision to support a different party or candidate? We argue that such last-minute information—no matter how salacious—does not alter the electoral sensibilities of voters who have higher levels of political knowledge. We argue that prospective voters who have a command over basic facts about government institutions and political actors—what are known as “static-general” facts—are more willing to take advantage of “convenience” voting opportunities, casting their ballot days, or even weeks, prior to Election Day. In short, having a greater facility of the players and the “rules of the game” affects both when and how voters decide to vote, even after controlling for standard socio-economic, political, and campaign factors, as well as a respondent’s partisanship, ideology, and political engagement and awareness.
We find that those who possess less political knowledge, as well as Republicans, are much more likely to hold off to cast their ballot on Election Day. If voters with less political knowledge across the American states are less likely to vote early—particularly by mail—is it any wonder the President has made voting-by-mail Public Enemy #1?
Daniel A. Smith, Seth C. McKee, and M. V. “Trey” Hood III, “Election Daze: Voting Modes and Voter Preferences in the 2016 Presidential Election,” Florida Political Chronicle 25:2 (2018), 123-141.
ABSTRACT: To say that the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election was a surprise to many political experts would easily qualify as an understatement for the ages. Nonetheless, in defense of the political handicappers, there is notable evidence that the dynamics of voter choice in the days leading up to the last day of voting were differentiable from preferences registered on Election Day. That is, in some states it would seem that Hillary Clinton (Democrat) was advantaged by early voting and Donald Trump (Republican) was favored by voters who came to the polls on Election Day. This paper draws on aggregate- and individual-level data from Florida to examine voting across racial/ethnic groups, distinguishing between votes cast on Election Day with those cast early in-person and by mail in the 2016 Presidential Election. The paper also compares variation across modes of voting in 2016 with 2012 county-level Presidential Election returns. By leveraging original datasets that merge the modes of voting for different groups with aggregate presidential results, as well as using 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) individual-level data, we are able to determine the extent to which the story of Trump’s historic Presidential victory hinged on the support he garnered from voters who showed up on the final day of voting.
As of this morning, 59.3k Miami-Dade Republicans have had their absentee ballots counted by the SOE. That’s out of 87.9k GOP absentee ballots sent out to registered voters beginning in earnest in late January. So, 67.5% of all absentee ballots are already in the hopper, ready to be counted on Election Day.
More than 450 absentee envelope mailed in by Miami-Dade Republicans don’t have the voter’s signature; another 500+ have some form of voter error, and the canvasing board will take a look at them to determine if they’re valid or should be rejected.
The most important number, and the one that Donald Trump is likely referencing, is the 25.6k absentee ballots of registered Republicans that have yet to be sent in as of this morning’s figures. Certainly, there’s a history of absentee ballot fraud in Miami-Dade, as @MarcACaputo @PatriciaMazzei know well.