Poll: Despite Concerns Over COVID-19, Most People of Color in Pennsylvania Plan to Vote in Person though Election Day

Election 2020

The in-person voting plans of Black, Latinx, and AAPI voters in Pennsylvania must be protected, voting rights advocates say

For Immediate Release
October 15, 2020

Media Contact
Maria Cruz Lee
maria.lee@publicwise.org; 347-882-3225

Pennsylvania – A major new poll released today by the nonpartisan group Public Wise reveals that most people of color in Pennsylvania will vote in person through Election Day, despite concerns about COVID-19, and are unlikely to change their plans.

The poll of 1,093  likely voters in Pennsylvania shows that most voters of color will cast their ballots at physical polling sites on Election Day. 

It deliberately oversamples people of color who are Democrats, Independents, and Republicans in Pennsylvania to offer a more reliable and nuanced picture of their voting behavior than most standard polls that usually undersample these same voters.

Overall, the poll, conducted by Change Research, reveals 71% of likely voters of color in Pennsylvania plan to vote in person on Election Day, 2% plan to vote in-person early through in-person absentee, and 24% plan to vote absentee ballot or by mail.  

Pennsylvania Voter Plans
Pennsylvania Voter Plans

Here are the likely voting plans of Pennsylvania Democrats, Independents, and Republicans:

  • Pennsylvanians voting in person on Election Day: 42% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters, 73% of Independents, 94% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters;
  • Pennsylvanians voting in person early via in-person absentee: 2% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters, 1% of Independents, and 0% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters;
  • Pennsylvanians voting by absentee ballot or by mail: 48% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters, 15% of Independents, and 5% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters.

These poll findings reflect the fact that Pennsylvania has no history of early voting and the only early option this year is via in-person absentee, so voters who are planning to vote in person will by-and-large do so on Election Day in November. 

Given the large number of Pennsylvanians expected to vote in-person through Election Day, Public Wise is also helping to fund local efforts to increase the availability of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) at polling stations across the state.

 “The in-person voting plans of all Pennsylvanians should be fully supported and protected, especially at a time when our multi-racial democracy is under attack from the twin threats of COVID-19 and voter suppression. That’s why we’re releasing our poll findings and investing in efforts to ensure that every in-person voter in Pennsylvania has masks and personal protective equipment (PPE). In recent weeks, we’ve briefed grassroots groups in Pennsylvania about the importance of ensuring that all voting in person can happen safely. With so much at stake in the upcoming elections, it’s not enough just to get out the vote. We must also protect the ability of everyone to vote, especially in communities of color with the greatest risks of COVID-19 and voter suppression. Every voter must be treated with equal respect and dignity,” said Christina Baal, Executive Director of Public Wise.

“Black folks, immigrants, and poor folks have long fought against voter suppression intended to silence our voices. The mistrust in voting by mail comes from the longstanding fear of Black and Indigenous people of color every election cycle: That our votes don’t matter. With so much on the line this year including our democracy, election officials must ensure that every vote counts, whether cast by mail or in person, and that means ensuring PPE and language access are available for people who choose to vote in person,” said Maegan Llerena, Executive Director Make the Road PA.

The poll’s findings about most people of color in Pennsylvania planning to vote in person are consistent with a larger trend for several battleground states. Indeed, the same poll finds that most people of color in North Carolina and Georgia also plan to vote in person. In Arizona, nearly half of the state’s voters of color plan to vote in person.

Overall, 38% of Black voters and 39% of Latinx voters across these four battleground states plan to vote in person on Election Day; 29% of Black voters and 15% of Latinx voters plan to vote early in person; and 24% of Black voters and 39% of Latinx voters plan to vote by mail or absentee ballot. 

Across demographic groups, voters are extremely motivated to participate in elections this year, compared to previous years. 96% of voters say they are an 8 out of 10 or higher in terms of motivation, even while 67% of Black voters, 60% of Latinx voters, and 77% of Democrats and those who lean Democratic say COVID-19 is a very serious or serious concern with in-person voting, the poll finds.

About Public Wise

Public Wise is an organization formed in 2019 with a mission to create a government that reflects the will of the people. We set out to provide partners with concrete data to help inform organizing efforts this year. To learn more about our work, please visit www.publicwise.org 


Pennsylvania (Presentation | Crosstabs) Change Research surveyed 1,093 likely voters online across Pennsylvania. Change Research uses Dynamic Online Sampling to recruit a representative sample. Weighting was done on gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and 2016 vote. The margin of error is ± 3.0% for the full sample and larger among subgroups.