Citizen Projects Higher Levels of Vote by Mail in Key States

Today, Citizen Data is releasing model projections for 2020 vote by mail — also known as absentee voting — in Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Georgia and Michigan. The models were projected in late July, with the exception of Ohio, which was projected in early July. 

Across the board, our team of data scientists projected higher levels of absentee turnout than has been observed in previous elections. 

Key findings include: 

  • All 5 states are likely to see increases in absentee voting rates. The greatest increases relative to the 2016 general election will be in Ohio (322%), Michigan (86%) and Florida (80%). The lowest increases are projected to be in Wisconsin (12.5%) and Georgia (20.8%).
  • Although both parties will see increases in absentee voting volumes and rates, Democrats are projected to vote absentee at an average of 67.9%, while Republicans are projected to absentee at an average of 37.6%.
  • Only in Ohio are white voters more likely to vote absentee than other racial minorities. In most states analyzed, greater shares of the Black and Hispanic voting populations will vote absentee than white voters.
  • Most metropolitan areas will experience much higher rates of absentee voting than less densely populated areas in each state. 
  • Older voters are much more likely to vote in general, and to vote absentee, than younger generations.
  • The highest income and education groups are generally projected to have the highest absentee voting rates. The lowest income and education groups are generally predicted to have the lowest.

View the full project files and raw data here.

While Citizen is confident in its projections given the data inputs, the situation is fluid and dynamic, and future updates and improvements to the model will be necessary. This is an unprecedented and anxious time for Americans, and many factors that will affect how Americans turn out to vote absentee, including but not limited to: the varied language people use to reference understand vote by mail; unpredictable public-health related uncertainty; and future projections of unprecedented unemployment rates nationally, among others. 

For this project, Citizen is partnering with a number of organizations — including the National Vote at Home Institute and the Stanford-MIT Project on a Healthy Election — to produce predictive absentee models in key states across the country. The primary goal of is to support election administrators with strategic resource allocation. In coming weeks and months, Citizen will release updates to these state models as well as new projections in additional states and key insights from national surveys.