Effect of Rapid Vote by Mail Transition on Communities of Color and Immigrants

Awarded Scholars:
Matthew A. Barreto, University of California, Los Angeles
Chad W. Dunn, University of California, Los Angeles
Project Date:
Sep 2020
Award Amount:

The COVID-19 crisis forced many states to postpone primary elections and/or hold them mostly by mail. Yet most Americans are not accustomed to voting by mail (VBM). Previous research suggests that barriers to voting by mail already exist for communities of color and immigrants, and data from elections held during the COVID-19 pandemic confirm that people of color return mail ballots at lower rates than whites. While VBM is a safe alternative to in-person voting, it is unclear how a rapid shift to VBM will differentially affect communities of color and immigrants and whether existing barriers change depending on the vote by mail scheme. Political scientist Matt Barreto and legal scholar Chad Dunn will use survey experiments to gauge reactions, understanding, and use of VBM on communities of color and immigrants. The survey will randomize 2,000 respondents into control and treatment conditions to assess the potential demobilizing and mobilizing effects of vote-by-mail. The sample will be split evenly among Blacks and Latinos and will be drawn nationally across all states proportionate to their Black and Latino populations.


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