Vote by Mail Continues to Gain Ground

Election Day: less than two weeks away. But, for millions of Americans, it already arrived.

More and more voters in the United States participate in elections via vote by mail. And if the trend of recent presidential election cycles continues, the number of people voting in such nontraditional ways could explode. Projections show it could top 50 million by the time all the votes are counted.

In 2012, more than 46 million voters – almost 36 percent of the total – cast ballots nontraditionally. This means they voted places other than traditional polling places on Election Day. This data comes from a Pew Research Center analysis of state and federal election data. That figure includes 23.3 million people who cast civilian or military absentee ballots. An additional 6.9 million voted early (that is, in person during a specific period leading up to Election Day). Another 6.3 million mailed in their ballots.

New Processes, New Problems

And while this process may improve services for voters, it creates a problem for election administrators. Officials must find solutions to efficiently manage their workload. There are numerous steps involved in manually processing a mail ballot accurately. As a result, it can slow down the processing time and speed, while increasing personnel and man-hours.