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9/18: Election Security

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9/18: Election Security

While a majority of Americans (53%) think the United States is either very prepared or prepared to keep this fall’s midterm elections safe and secure, nearly four in ten residents nationally (38%) doubt the nation’s preparedness to thwart security risks to November’s elections.

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The Integrity of U.S. Elections:

While a majority of Americans (53%) think the United States is either very prepared or prepared to keep this fall’s midterm elections safe and secure, nearly four in ten residents nationally (38%) doubt the nation’s preparedness to thwart security risks to November’s elections. In fact, more than six in ten Americans (63%) say protecting the integrity of the nation’s elections is a top priority. Of note, Republicans (74%), independents (51%), white residents (54%), and Latino adults (51%) are more likely than Democrats (36%) and African Americans (44%) to assert the United States is ready to keep this year’s midterm elections secure.

“Democrats think the nation is not prepared to preserve the security of the upcoming elections whereas Republicans do,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Both Democrats and Republicans think election security should be a top priority but Democrats are more likely to think so.”

Many Americans (61%), including 79% of Republicans, 60% of independents but only 44% of Democrats, believe domestic voter fraud or suppression is a bigger danger to keeping U.S. elections safe and secure than interference by foreign countries. 34% of Americans hold the opposite view.

If voter fraud does occur, a plurality of registered voters (45%) think it will be more of a help to Republicans than Democrats (35%). In contrast, a FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll of likely voters in 2008 found 47% thought fraud would help the Democrats, and 35% said it would benefit the GOP.

Opinion differs along party lines, but even 14% of Republicans say the GOP will be the beneficiary. 10% of Democrats say their party will be aided. Women (52%) and a plurality of white voters with a college education (46%) perceive the GOP to be the benefactor of voter fraud. White voters without a college degree (49%) believe the Democrats will be aided be the deceit. Men divide (41% for Democrats and 40% for Republicans).

When Russia enters the picture, it is a different story. 67% of Americans believe it is either very likely or likely Russia will again use social media to spread false information about candidates running for office. Americans are less convinced about the possibility of other forms, domestic or international, of electoral interference. Voter fraud is the only other concern that breaks fifty percent (53%). Also noteworthy, 46% say it is very likely or likely that many votes will not be counted, and 45% think many people will be turned away from voting due to ineligibility.

On the questions listed above, non-white Americans are more likely than white Americans to say it is likely or very likely these scenarios will play out in the midterms.

A plurality of Americans think the responsibility for making sure elections are safe and secure belongs to the federal government (38%), but only 23% of Americans have confidence in federal election officials to protect the actual results of this November’s midterm elections over their state and local governments.

Have elected officials, government agencies, and social media companies put enough effort into preventing foreign interference in this year’s elections? Majorities of Americans say the FBI (55%), the Department of Homeland Security (51%), and state election officials (51%) have done either a great deal or good amount to protect the integrity of the upcoming elections.

On the above questions, Americans under the age of 45 are more likely than their older counterparts to believe these agencies, companies, and individuals have made strides in protecting the U.S. from electoral interference.

“While the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and state officials score positively as trying to head off interference in the midterm elections, not so for President Trump or the Democrats and Republicans in Congress,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “In fact, President Trump has the highest proportion of Americans  (41%) who say he has ‘done nothing’ to ensure the integrity of this year’s elections.”

Do Americans think technology will make the U.S. elections safer from interference or fraud? Many do not think so. 89% think Internet voting will lessen the degree of security, and 56% of Americans assert electronic voting such as touch screen machines will make the elections more vulnerable. Instead, 68% of U.S. residents think paper ballots will make the elections safer.

The Fairness of U.S. Elections:

Despite partisan, racial, and gender differences, six in ten U.S. residents (60%) have a great deal or good amount of trust in the fairness of U.S. elections compared with 38% who do not.

A plurality of Americans (31%) say the biggest threat to fair elections this fall is voter fraud. Voter suppression (24%) and interference from Russia or another foreign country (22%) follow. Vote tampering by election officials receives 15%.

Many Americans (63%) also have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence that all ballots cast will be counted accurately, but 34% have not very much or none at all.

“Although a majority of Americans align with the view that the U.S. elections are fair overall, when I put on my political science hat, I am struck by the more than one in three Americans who have little or no trust in the fairness of our elections or that votes will be counted accurately,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

86% of Americans express confidence that their voting location will be organized so that it is convenient for them to vote. 80% of residents, comparable to 83% in April, do not have very much confidence or any confidence at all in the truthfulness of what they read on Facebook.

58% of Americans, including 63% of white residents, expect to vote in person on Election Day. 22%, including 28% of Latino residents and 25% of African Americans, say they will vote by mail or by absentee ballot. 17% will cast their ballot at an early voting location. In a 2012 Washington Post Poll, 73% of Americans planned to vote on Election Day. Most Americans (96%) report they have a government-issued photo ID, but nearly one in ten African Americans (9%) do not. According to a CBS News Poll in 2015, 93% reported they had a valid photo ID.

With the average wait time of little more than 10 minutes (10.4 minutes), two-thirds of Americans (66%) say they wait less is than 10 minutes to vote. 24% wait between 10 to 30 minutes, and 5% wait more than 30 minutes.

A majority of residents nationally (55%) travel less than 10 minutes one way to get to their polling place. 34% travel between 10 and 30 minutes, and 3% travel more than 30 minutes. Latino residents (10%) are more likely than any other demographic group to travel more than 30 minutes to cast their ballot.

On average, Americans travel 10.7 minutes to get to their polling place. Latinos (15.5), African Americans (14.1), Americans younger than 45 (12.6), those without a college degree (12.3), and those who earn less than $50,000 a year (12.3) travel longer distances than their counterparts to vote.

Most Americans have not had difficulty voting. More than nine in ten Americans say they hardly ever or never had incorrect identification (96%), had their voter registration questioned or told they are not registered to vote (95%), had a hard time getting to their polling place (94%), or experienced broken voting machines or not having enough ballots at their polling place (93%). The most cited voting problem is waiting in long lines at their polling place (20%).

Non-white Americans, especially African Americans, are more likely to have experienced these voting obstacles than white residents.

Complete September 18, 2018 NPR/Marist Poll Release of the United States
Complete September 18, 2018 NPR/Marist Poll of the United States (Tables)
NPR/Marist Poll Methodology and Nature of the Sample

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