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Political expert: Mail-in voting won't help or hurt either party

President Trump says he is against mail-in voting because it could hurt Republicans, but a local political science professor says that's not the case

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — President Trump has publicly expressed he is against mail-in voting because it could lead to voter fraud and hurt Republicans, but a local political science professor said that's not the case.

"It is interesting to me that we're thinking about mail-in voting in 2020," Sarah Niebler, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Dickinson College, said. "And the circumstances under which we're thinking about it."

Niebler is also the College's resident pollster whose research covers voter behavior. She said there's no evidence to prove mail-in voting will hurt Republicans.

"The states that have had vote by mail for a little while - there's no systematic biased or systematic advantage to any one party," Niebler said. "I think what everybody's worried about, and I think particularly why President Trump is worried about this is, he won under a particular set of rules."

Things have changed though, not just mail-in voting. Many primaries have been delayed, and straight-ticket voting has been eliminated.

Niebler believes mail-in voting will bring out people who don't usually vote, or "low-propensity" voters.

"Because they can do it from their living room," Niebler said. "And they don't have to take time off work, they don't have to deal with child care issues, they don't have to go into the middle of a pandemic right? That's why we're talking about it now."

Since these types of voters tend to have no strong partisan attachment, Niebler said they cancel each other out, which is why it won't hurt or help either party.

Still, President Trump tweeted that mail-in voting will lead to "voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn't work out well for Republicans."

"If we value political participation overall, we should value it for everyone, regardless if it even might hurt our team or our party in the short term," Niebler said. "And so we really want to separate the process from the outcome here."

Governor Tom Wolf is encouraging registered voters to apply for a mail-in ballot for the June 2nd primary election, as Pennsylvania continues mitigation efforts for COVID-19.