The Seattle Times recently covered the release of a report examining the impact of King County’s 2006 switch to voting by mail. The Times’ takeaway? Vote by mail doesn’t increase turnout, even though that was supposedly a goal when the County Council supported the switch 5 years ago.
Read just a little further, though, and the answer isn’t as clear as the headline and lede would suggest. Comparing off-year elections in 2005 and 2009, the report found that turnout was about the same – just over 56 percent.
Between 2006 and 2010, however, turnout was up almost 5 percent – from 65.3 to about 71 percent. The article suggests (correctly, I would add) that other factors may have contributed to the increase – but that doesn’t mean that vote by mail wasn’t a factor.
Furthermore, the article (if not the headline) highlights the real story: namely, that King County’s vote-counting accuracy has become impeccable during the vote by mail era