Public Wise Research Shows Urgency for Passage of “For the People Act”

March 4, 2020

Contact: Maria Cruz Lee

The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democratic process. Without equitable access to the franchise, the distribution of power among American citizens is arbitrary and threatens the validity and stability of our democracy. Public Wise engaged in a quantitative study over multiple election cycles, which analyzed several voting access reforms across all 50 states. 

We are pleased to see some of the reforms we studied included in the “For the People Act of 2021.” (H.R.1. and S.1.) We know these reforms will take time to begin generating positive voter participation effects and fully support the passage of HR1 in the House last night. 

We strongly encourage the Senate to pass this legislation immediately.

Given the slim margins held by pro-democracy coalitions in both houses of Congress, it is urgent these policies become law well before the 2022 election cycle begins.

By passing HR1, the House has done right by our nation’s voters.
Our research makes clear those who care about equitable access to the polls and increased voter participation should support the legislation. We urge the Senate to pass this bill and move us toward a more fully functioning democracy.

Christina Baal-Owens
Executive Director, Public Wise

We want to draw your attention to our findings and encourage these provisions to be immediately passed into law:

Cure Processes

Among the strongest positive turnout affects we found was the existence of a cure process for mail ballots being questioned.

Mail, No-Excuse Absentee, Early and Drop-Box Voting

  • Turnout is substantially higher in places that allow voting by mail, no-excuse absentee voting, and have an early voting period. This effect is notably stronger when the laws were adopted more than two years prior to the election in which turnout is being measured.
  • In places with extant vote by mail laws, those that also have ballot drop boxes and voter centers have even higher turnout.

Automatic Voter Registration (AVR)

Our research found that AVR is associated with higher turnout, and that this effect is substantially stronger when AVR is adopted at least two years prior to the election in which turnout is being measured.

Same Day Voter Registration (SDVR)

Our research suggests SDVR is associated with higher turnout, but that this effect is most notable when SDVR has been available for a long time prior to the election being measured. If we are to see positive effects from SDVR in the 2024 election, it is critical it be passed into law well prior to the 2022 elections.

Prohibition of Voter Purges

Our research shows a strong link between voter turnout and places that do not purge voters who have not voted in prior elections. As a matter of principle, Public Wise finds inactive voter purges particularly egregious and contrary to the ostensibly shared goal of all patriotic Americans to bring our fellow citizens into the process.

Prohibition of Voter ID Requirements

Turnout is higher in places that do not have voter ID requirements, and in particular impacts people who are most likely to lack sanctioned IDs, such as students and low-income Americans.

About Public Wise

Persistent and unyielding in our commitment to a just multiracial democracy, Public Wise fights to secure a government that reflects the will and protects the rights of the people. We accomplish this through education, research, organizing, funding, and partnerships that support more voting and more equitable representation.