John C. Fortier, the author of a recent book on absentee and early voting, recently testified before the House Election Subcommittee on H.R. 281, H.R. 1646, and H.R. 1667. The whole testimony is well worth the read, but here’s a choice cut:
If I were testifying before a state legislature, I would urge caution in expanding absentee and vote by mail programs for many of the reasons stated above. 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. I would also note that states have many options to improve the convenience of elections that do not involve expanding mail or absentee ballots.
First, I would recommend that states significantly improve the convenience of voting on Election Day. I would recommend longer voting hours, better poll worker training, better siting of more accessible polling places. States might also consider adopting Election Day vote centers or super centers as several counties in Colorado have tried. These vote centers allow voters to cast ballots at any location in their county, not just their home polling places. Early academic research has shown that these vote centers do increase turnout and attract new voters to the process.