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Poll: 70 percent of Americans support voting by mail

A strong majority of voters support having an option to vote by mail in November over fears they could contract the coronavirus by going in-person to a polling station, a new poll finds.

The latest Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey finds that 70 percent of voters support a mail-in option, including 88 percent of Democrats, 71 percent of independents and 50 percent of Republicans.

Seventy-five percent of voters said they’re at least a little bit concerned about catching the coronavirus if vote-by-mail is not an option.

President Trump on Thursday raised the possibility of delaying the 2020 election, saying that mail-in balloting is rife with fraud. Trump, who is trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the polls, does not have the authority to delay the election.

Many states have expanded access to mail-in balloting in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. The states have taken additional verification measures to ensure the integrity of their elections.

There is no evidence of widespread fraud in mail voting, although some states have been overwhelmed by the flood of ballots and the crush of administrative work, which has led to some counting delays.

Seventy-eight percent of voters in the poll said they’re at least a little bit concerned about vote tampering. Thirty-three percent said they’re extremely concerned, 21 percent are very concerned, 24 percent are a little bit concerned and 22 percent are not concerned at all.

Eighty percent of voters said they oppose harvesting ballots, in which groups go door to door to collect mail-in ballots and return them in bulk. Sixty percent said they think ballots will be mailed to people who have died or moved away, although election officials have taken steps to ensure those ballots cannot be filled out and returned.

“Given the pandemic, most voters do want a mail-in option but they want safeguards and fully believe at the same time opportunities for fraud will be created through indiscriminate ballot mailing,” said Harvard CAPS-Harris polling director Mark Penn.

“Importantly there was overwhelming — 80 percent — bipartisan opposition to ballot harvesting — the voters sending a strong message that individual ballots should be mailed in and not collected by partisans. At the end of the day the voters have a sensible outlook — make it possible for me to avoid the lines and crowding at polling places during the pandemic but don’t open the door to fraud and partisanship.”

The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll online survey of 1,932 registered voters was conducted between July 21 and July 23. It is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and The Harris Poll. The Hill will be working with Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll throughout 2020.

Full poll results will be posted online later this week. The survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.

Tags 2020 election absentee Donald Trump Joe Biden Mark Penn Vote by Mail

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