About 47 percent of Republicans believe that a time will come when “patriotic Americans have to take the law into their own hands,” according to a George Washington University poll on Americans’ faith in election systems and democratic values. 

The GW Politics Poll, conducted among more than 1,700 registered voters from June 4 to June 23 and released this week, found that support for principles like free and fair elections, free speech and peaceful protest were nearly unanimous among Democratic and Republican voters. Approximately 55 percent of GOP respondents, however, said they support the potential use of force to preserve the “traditional American way of life,” compared to just 15 percent of Democrats. 

Only 9 percent of Democrats agreed with the statement that "a time will come when patriotic Americans have to take the law into their own hands."

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Additionally, Republicans were significantly less likely to have a strong amount of faith in local and state elections.

Eighty-five percent of Democrats expressed trust in local election officials, with 76 percent saying the same of state officials, compared to 63 percent and 44 percent, respectively, for GOP voters.

University researchers measured a drop in Republicans’ confidence in the 2022 elections compared to the period leading up to the 2020 elections, with just 28 percent of Republicans saying they were confident in the upcoming midterm elections compared to 46 percent measured before the 2020 general elections.

Comparatively, 76 percent of Democrats said they were confident going into the 2020 elections, and close to 75 percent say the same going into next year’s political contests.

Republican doubt in the integrity of U.S. elections has been growing in large part due to unsupported claims from former President TrumpDonald TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event MORE and his allies that widespread voter fraud resulted in inaccurate 2020 election results. 

Efforts to restrict access to the ballot box have been passed or advanced in GOP-led states nationwide in the wake of the November vote.

Danny Hayes, professor of political science and co-director of the GW Politics Poll, said in a statement, “Most of the state and local officials who run our elections are long-time public servants whose goal is simply to help our democracy operate smoothly.” 

“But if we’ve gotten to a place where voters trust the electoral system only when their side wins, then that undermines the idea of non-partisan election administration, which is essential for democracy,” Hayes added. 

Some of the diminished trust in elections has culminated in violent threats being made toward election workers, prompting the Department of Justice on Thursday to launch a task force aimed at combating such threats. 

The GW poll, conducted by YouGov, was the final wave in a four-wave panel that began in October with 2,500 voters.