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Working Paper: How do Americans Want Elections to be Run During the COVID-19 Crisis?


To inform the vital conversation among the nation’s political leaders, elections administrators, and scholars about how to hold a safe, accessible, and fair election in November, this paper reports how a sample of 5,612 eligible American voters, surveyed April 8-10, want to see the election run during the COVID-19 crisis. We embed a randomized experiment presenting respondents with truthful summaries of the projections of two teams of scientists about the pandemic. Our descriptive findings show that four in ten eligible voters would prefer to cast their ballot by mail rather than in person this November and that a majority of respondents favor policies expanding mail voting. Our experimental findings show that respondents who read the scientific projections were more likely to prefer voting by mail, were more likely to trust that a mail ballot would be counted accurately, and were more likely to favor holding the election entirely by mail.

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