New poll shows 'crisis of confidence' in US elections

New poll shows 'crisis of confidence' in US elections

A year before the 2020 presidential elections, only half of Americans say they believe the vote will be conducted openly and fairly, according to a new survey that reveals a growing mistrust in the U.S. electoral system.

The poll, conducted by Ipsos for C-SPAN and shared exclusively with The Hill, found that 53 percent of registered voters said next year’s elections will be open and fair. Just 46 percent said they have a great deal or a fair amount of trust in the wisdom of their fellow Americans when it comes to election outcomes.

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“The deck is stacked because of all the gerrymandering that’s gone on,” said Charles Flink, a retired teacher who lives in White Oak, Pa., just outside of Pittsburgh. “You’ve got huge amounts of money that are buying votes all over the place, blocking minority people from voting, scaring people away from the polls and doing all these kinds of nonsense.”

The survey results show a stark partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans over the integrity of next year’s vote.

Almost three quarters of Republicans, 72 percent, said the next election will be conducted fairly. Only 39 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of independent voters agreed. 

About half of Democrats and independent voters said U.S. elections are rigged to favor the rich and powerful. Twenty-eight percent of Republicans said the same. 

“Right now, there is a crisis of confidence in our democracy,” said Cliff Young, the president of Ipsos. “By and large, the American people do not believe our elections are safe from foreign interference, and there is a vast partisan disagreement over whether the next election will be open and fair.” 

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Only 31 percent of Americans — including 54 percent of Republicans and just 16 percent of Democrats — said the government has done enough to protect elections from foreign interference. And fewer than three quarters of voters, 72 percent, believed paper ballots would be counted accurately.

Fifty-eight percent of voters said foreign governments pose a threat to American elections.

“There’s too much propaganda out there,” said David Granquist, a retired accountant in Madison, Wis., who described himself as a very conservative independent. “There is such a divide you can’t believe, and there’s mudslinging and everything else going on. And it gets to a point where the average person can’t understand what’s going on.”

Large majorities of American voters believe in overhauling parts of the electoral system in substantial ways that would, in some cases, require amending the Constitution.

Sixty percent of voters, including 84 percent of Democrats, supported amending the Constitution to award the presidency to the candidate who wins the popular vote. Just 38 percent — including two-thirds of Republicans — said they favor keeping the Electoral College intact. 

Three-quarters of voters, and even two-thirds of Democrats, said they would be more confident in election results if every voter were required to show a government-issued identification at the polls. Nearly two-thirds, 64 percent, said they would be more confident if Election Day were a national holiday.

A little more than a quarter of respondents, 28 percent, said they believe states should be allowed to decide their own voting processes, rather than federalizing election rules. Forty-four percent disagreed. 

Only 17 percent said they believed that states with a history of voter discrimination should be allowed to decide their own voting procedures without oversight by the federal government.

Forty-eight percent of Americans, including nearly three-quarters of Democrats and almost half of independents, said voter discrimination is a problem in America. 

A slim majority of voters, 53 percent, said presidential candidates should be required to release recent tax returns in order to appear on the ballot. President TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation MORE has refused to release his tax returns. A federal judge recently blocked a California law that would have required Trump to disclose those returns in order to appear on the state’s ballot.

There is little appetite for changing some basic elements of the electoral system. Only 27 percent of respondents believe the voting age should be increased to 21, and just 12 percent said the voting age should be lowered to 16. Only 5 percent of voters said those over the age of 65 should not be allowed to vote, and 3 percent supported repealing the 19th Amendment, which guarantees women the right to vote.

Forty-two percent of voters said representatives from Washington, D.C., should be given a vote in Congress. Forty-seven percent said the same about Puerto Rico, which elects a nonvoting resident commissioner to represent the island in Congress.

When it comes to their own decisions at the ballot box, the vast majority of voters, 90 percent, said they are not influenced by public opinion polls. But almost two-thirds, 63 percent, said they believed pre-election polling influences the way other people vote.

The C-SPAN/Ipsos Poll was conducted Sept. 23-30 among 1,039 American adults. The poll carried a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.