Yesterday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) vetoed a bill that would have allowed in-person early voting in his state for 14 days prior to elections. Christie’s veto statement claimed that expanding the franchise in this way would be too expensive and also that early voting “risks the integrity and orderly administration of our elections by introducing a new voting method and process.” He also claims that the state’s current system allowing early voters to vote by mail is sufficient.
Christie’s claim that limiting early voting to mail in ballots will preserve the “integrity” of elections is, if anything, the opposite of true. According to the New York Times, mailed ballots are “less likely to be counted, more likely to be compromised and more likely to be contested than those cast in a voting booth, statistics show. Election officials reject almost 2 percent of ballots cast by mail, double the rate for in-person voting.” Moreover, while in-person voter fraud is virtually non-existent, fraud in mailed ballots is “vastly more prevalent.”
There is another possible explanation for Christie’s veto, however. One empirical study shows that voters who vote by mail are “more likely to be Republicans” and another shows that they are more likely to be “politically conservative.” Admittedly, there is also a study from the 1990s claiming that in-person earlier voters tend to be demographically similar to voters who vote by mail, but it is likely that this study’s findings have been displaced by events. The Obama campaigns made turning out early voters to the polls a major focus of their get out the vote effort, and voter drives that bring black voters to the polls on early voting days are now common in African-American churches.