Forst Family Professor of Political Science Gregory Huber and Sterling Professor of Political Science Alan Gerber have a new article in the journal American Politics Research entitled “Health Risks and Voting: Emphasizing Safety Measures Taken to Prevent COVID-19 Does Not Increase Willingness to Vote in Person.”
The COVID-19 pandemic made salient the risks posed by an infectious disease at a polling place. To what degree did such health risks, as with other changes to voting costs, affect the willingness to vote in person? Could highlighting safety measures reduce the association between COVID fears and unwillingness to vote in person? Using both a representative survey of Connecticut voters and a survey experiment, we examine whether concerns about health diminish willingness to vote in person. We find correlational evidence that those who are more worried about COVID-19 are less likely to report they will vote in person, even when considering risk mitigation efforts. We then present causal evidence that mentioning the safety measures being taken does little to offset the negative effect of priming COVID-19 risk on willingness to vote in person. These results contribute to a growing literature that assesses how health risks affect in person voting.