April 22, 2020
As states explore ways to expand voting options amid the lockdown for the coronavirus outbreak, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds that a majority of voters support changing election law so that everyone can vote by mail.
Nobody wants to risk catching the lethal disease while he or she is standing in line for the polls, or voting.
And they have a point: Indeed, according to Business Insider and the Associated Press, officials in Wisconsin have traced at least seven positive cases of COVID-19 to in-person voting held during the April 7 primaries in that state. Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Koiwalik said six of the cases involved voters who cast ballots in person on election day; while in one case, a poll worker was infected.
In the latest poll by the Journal/NBC News, some 58% of voters said they favor changing election laws permanently to allow voting by mail. While 39% oppose a permanent change, one-quarter of that group says mail-in voting should be allowed this November due to the virus.
Views divide sharply by party, with 82% of Democrats backing a permanent change, compared with 31% of Republicans. Among Independents, 61% favor expanding the option.
In Congress, Democrats are pushing for funding in coronavirus legislation to expand mail-in voting nationwide, but President Trump opposes the idea, claiming it allows for fraud.
Five states already vote almost entirely by mail. Nearly a quarter of Americans from all states cast mail or absentee ballots in the 2016 general election, according to federal data.
Some states, including Republican-led West Virginia and Indiana, said they would allow any voter to cast an absentee ballot in party primaries this year because of the pandemic. In states such as Texas and Wisconsin, mail-in voting proposals have been the subject of partisan disputes.,
Views on the matter also differ by age and race, the Journal/NBC News poll found. Among 18- to 34-year-old respondents, 74% favored allowing all voters to cast ballots by mail. By contrast, 46% of those 65 or older supported the idea.
Some 67% of African-Americans and 73% of Latinos favored a permanent change to broaden mail-in voting, compared with 54% of white voters.
The Journal/NBC News poll surveyed 900 registered voters from April 13-15.
Research contact: @WSJ