Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration

Committee Chair

Dr. Annelise Russell

Executive Summary

This project seeks to examine the potential effects on voter turnout of changes in the laws and policies governing convenience voting methods: the different ways for citizens to cast a ballot anywhere or anytime besides an official polling location on Election Day itself. Specifically, convenience voting methods include absentee voting, early voting, and vote-by-mail, often coming with restrictions such as requiring a valid excuse in order to make use of them. As the US Constitution and relevant federal laws leave election administration almost entirely to the individual states, there is often significant variation in the availability of convenience voting methods between states. My intent with this project is to study whether expanding access to convenience voting methods, or removing existing restrictions from convenience voting methods, has any measurable impact on voter turnout over time.

The results suggest that turnout may increase when counties or states mandate vote-by-mail for all elections, but other forms of convenience voting appear to have no statistically significant impact on voter turnout. However, continued study of voter turnout and voting methods is important as the laws and policies surrounding election administration and voting methods are often in flux across the country, with the 2021 state legislative sessions being no different. The Brennan Center for Justice has found over 1200 bills and provisions submitted to state legislatures as of March 24th that aim to alter some facet of election administration, eligibility, registration, etc., both in restrictive and expansive ways. This significant amount of proposed legislation may have a large effect on the nature and availability of convenience voting if and when they become law in the future, requiring further study on any potential turnout effects from those changes.