Vote on the last day advice from disinformation sources like Dr. Douglas Frank spread in Washington’s Third Congressional District last year.

When Joe Kent lost in an extremely close race last year, it followed months of advice from the candidate and others to Republican voters: submit your ballot at the last minute. This advice drew from the candidate’s experience in the August 2022 Primary, where Kent passed his opponent in the days after the first count, indicating that late voters propelled him over the top.

However, when Kent lost in the general, many people scrutinized the impact of the “vote late” advice.

Conservatives in the Southwest Washington district quickly reacted, with some asserting that the strategy of late voting did not help. In fact, the candidate himself reversed course just weeks after the election, explaining precisely why waiting to vote is a bad idea.

Essentially, life can get in the way. If you want to do something, do it early. Don’t wait and increase the chances that something else will stop you.

It’s also worth noting that the conspiracy theory underlying the “vote late” advice is baseless.

But, what I wanted to find out is whether the rhetoric had an impact on voter behavior. So, I analyzed available data on rejections and precinct results from the Secretary of State’s office for 2020 and 2022 in the WA3 and compared them side-by-side.

Two notable findings emerged:

Firstly, the number of late ballots more than tripled, despite a decline of 100,000 voters in the contest. In the 2020 election, with over 417,000 people casting ballots in the WA3, only 252 submitted ballots late. In 2022, despite a lower turnout of around 319,000 voters, 866 ballots were submitted late.

Here is the data file I worked from.

Second, late ballots shifted Republican between 2020 and 2022.

In 2020, voters in Democratic precincts were more likely to return ballots late.

In 2022, the trend line was much flatter.

An increase in late ballots from Republican precincts drove the overall increase in late ballots.

The bottom line is, though, the difference between the two candidates was more than 2,000 votes. While this is astronomically close, it is more than twice the difference in late votes that were not counted. That said, we obviously don’t have a count of possible Republican voters that didn’t even turn in a ballot because they realized they waited too long.