Jan 16, 2018
Many states implemented automatic voter registration, removed excuse requirements for absentee ballots, and expanded early voting windows ahead of the 2020 election. This report examines the effects that these changes in voting laws — meant to encourage turnout and protect public health during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic — had on levels of voter turnout and, relatedly, the effects of in-person voting on the spread of COVID-19.
Estimating the Effects on Voter Turnout, Voting Method, and the Spread of COVID-19
Published Jul 31, 2023
Leading up to the 2020 general election, state election boards grew concerned that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic might drive voters away from the polls or that crowded polling stations would spread the virus and lead to a wave of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
In an effort to safely conduct the 2020 general election, many states changed their voting laws by implementing automatic voter registration, removing excuse requirements for absentee ballots, and expanding early voting windows. These changes, meant to encourage turnout and protect public health, were expensive to implement, politically contentious, or both. But did the changes have the desired effects?
This report examines the impact of voting laws on voter turnout and choice of voting method in the 2020 election and the effects of in-person voting on the spread of COVID-19.