Presentation Title

The Consequences of Voting from Home: Assessing Media Framing of Mail-In Voting from 2000 to 2020

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Keywords

mail-in voting, media framing, Donald Trump, 2020 Election, fraud

Department

Political Science

Major

Political Science

Abstract

Despite the increased use of mail-in ballots during the recent election cycle, many states and localities had actually implemented mail-in voting before 2020. The increased use of mail-in voting and the resulting political polarization around the issue in the recent election provides a unique opportunity to analyze changes in media framing of mail-in voting during the 2020 election. The four primary effects of vote-by-mail reform noted in the literature include the impact on voter turnout, political party success rates, turnout among specific demographic groups, and susceptibility to fraud. This study employs a content analysis of 400 articles published by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal from 2000 to 2020 and a coding scheme designed to track changes in media framing of mail-in voting before, during, and after the 2020 election. The results indicate that, in the past year, the media became more likely to frame mail-in voting in the context of benefitting specific political parties and its susceptibility to fraud and less likely to discuss its impact on turnout among specific demographic groups and voter turnout overall. In addition, in 2020, it became more common for the media to assert that mail-in voting benefits Democrats and is not subject to fraud, a shift in framing from previous years.

Faculty Mentor

J. Christopher Soper

Funding Source or Research Program

Political Science Honors Program

Presentation Session

Session B

Start Date

23-4-2021 2:00 PM

End Date

23-4-2021 2:15 PM

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Apr 23rd, 2:00 PM Apr 23rd, 2:15 PM

The Consequences of Voting from Home: Assessing Media Framing of Mail-In Voting from 2000 to 2020

Despite the increased use of mail-in ballots during the recent election cycle, many states and localities had actually implemented mail-in voting before 2020. The increased use of mail-in voting and the resulting political polarization around the issue in the recent election provides a unique opportunity to analyze changes in media framing of mail-in voting during the 2020 election. The four primary effects of vote-by-mail reform noted in the literature include the impact on voter turnout, political party success rates, turnout among specific demographic groups, and susceptibility to fraud. This study employs a content analysis of 400 articles published by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal from 2000 to 2020 and a coding scheme designed to track changes in media framing of mail-in voting before, during, and after the 2020 election. The results indicate that, in the past year, the media became more likely to frame mail-in voting in the context of benefitting specific political parties and its susceptibility to fraud and less likely to discuss its impact on turnout among specific demographic groups and voter turnout overall. In addition, in 2020, it became more common for the media to assert that mail-in voting benefits Democrats and is not subject to fraud, a shift in framing from previous years.