Vote-by-Mail Programs Fail to Increase Voter Turnout and Jeopardize Ballot Security

Oct 22, 2007

WASHINGTON — Today, the Subcommittee on Elections conducted the second day of the vote-by-mail legislation hearing.  Witnesses who testified before the Subcommittee, focused on the potential consequences and vulnerabilities of the vote-by-mail legislation introduced by Representative Susan Davis, D-Calif.    

 




 



Research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of Absentee and Early Voting: Trends, Promises, and Perils, John C. Fortier, cautioned members of the Subcommittee to closely examine the effectiveness and consequences of vote-by-mail programs before considering legislation that would force all states to implement such programs.  “Absentee and mail voting is convenient and liked by many voters, but it comes with a cost, especially the loss of the privacy of the ballot and additional opportunities for voter fraud,” Fortier noted.  “Casting an absentee ballot, while necessary for some, is inferior to casting a vote at a polling place.”

 




 



In addition to concerns over ballot security, the witnesses testifying before the Subcommittee addressed the common misconception that absentee ballot programs increase voter turnout.  In his testimony before the Subcommittee, Texas’ former Director of Elections, Tom Harrison, expressed his disappointment with voter turnout after Texas expanded the absentee program in 1987.  “It has never had the expected result of increasing turnout,” Harrison explained.  “It seems instead that many of the voters who would generally vote on Election Day have adopted early voting as their preference.”     

 




 



Today’s Subcommittee hearing was held at the request of Ranking Republican Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., after Subcommittee Chairwoman, Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., denied his request to hear additional expert testimony on Davis’ legislation.  

 



    

 



For more information, contact the Republican Committee press office at (202) 225-8281.