Vote by Mail: International Practice During COVID-19

Envelopes for returning U.S. ballots and a fabric face mask

The COVID-19 pandemic has reinvigorated debate around alternative voting methods. A growing number of democracies successfully operate distance voting, in which ballots are delivered to voters’ home and voters then return ballots by mail or in person.

The most effective administrations have scaled up operations over several electoral cycles, incrementally calibrating and perfecting capacity and safeguards. However, COVID-19 has suddenly increased demand for this complex election service. Election authorities, voters and politicians should therefore be cognizant of the risks and rewards associated with rapidly scaling up distance voting.

Vote by Mail: International Practice During COVID-19, a new paper from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), compares practices across Europe, Asia, Oceania and different U.S. states. It then provides recommendations for legislators and election administrators – in the U.S. and globally – to address challenges related to distance voting.


To learn more, RSVP for IFES’ Virtual U.S. Election Program! Manuel Wally, the author of Vote by Mail: International Practice During COVID-19, will participate in a panel discussion on October 29, 2020, on “Voting by Mail in the U.S.: Who Counts?”

Published on October 28, 2020.

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