The results of a recent survey published in Forbes of voters in Utah found that 21% of the Utah voting population prefers to vote by mail. This year, ten counties in Utah offered voters the chance to cast a ballot by mail. Two years ago in 2012, only one county used vote-by mail.
Oregon was the first state to adopt vote-by-mail statewide in 1996. By 2010, all but one county in Washington used mail ballots, and the last county came on board by 2012. This year, Colorado became the third state to shift to mail voting. From an election administration perspective, one reason for the rise in vote-by-mail is that it is much cheaper than in-person voting, which requires purchasing and maintaining voting equipment, renting polling locations, paying poll workers, and more.
In the 2014 Utah midterm election, 68% of voters voted in person, while 32% voted early or by mail. This was an increase in early voting from the 2010 midterm election when only one in four voters voted early or by mail. Of those who voted in person on Election Day, only 66% of them said that was their preferred method. When asked why they preferred to vote in person, there were a number of reasons cited:
- because it satisfies a sense of duty (64%),
- it is what they have always done (34%),
- because it is convenient (31%), and / or
- because it fosters a sense of community (26%).
Of the Utah voters who said they would prefer to vote by mail, age was an important factor: Voters over 65 were the most likely to prefer vote by mail at 35%, while voters under age 50 were much less inclined to prefer voting by mail at 11%.
Interestingly, nearly 20% noted they would prefer to vote by Internet. While online voter registration is certainly sweeping the nation, online voting will not become a reality anytime soon. Read more about New Jersey’s disastrous test during Hurricane Sandy.