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Voting by Mail in a Pandemic: A State-by-State Scorecard
 
September 10 – September 23, 2020
 
vote by mail



Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many have wondered if the U.S. can conduct a safe election in November. What we know is this: The safest and most secure way to vote in a pandemic is vote-by-mail.

During the 2020 primaries, coronavirus severely disrupted elections. State voting systems were overwhelmed by long lines, an influx of absentee ballot requests, and technology issues. Considering this, we have chosen to assess the ease of mail voting in each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., on dimensions such as requesting, completing, and submitting a mail-in ballot. This scorecard does not attempt to gauge overall voter experiences or cover all aspects of the voting system. It is a forward-looking and evolving analysis of what states are doing now to expand access and improve the process of voting by absentee ballot or via a universal vote-by-mail system, thereby improving voting in a pandemic.

The materials on this page are updated as of September 3, 2020. Given that there is a great deal of movement toward expanding mail voting, we will continue to update this page frequently as the election draws nearer. Special thanks to the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School for supporting students that collaborated on this project.

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