Poll: Majority of Americans not confident in security of US elections

Poll: Majority of Americans not confident in security of US elections
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A majority of Americans are not confident that the country’s election systems are secure from cyber threats and think that it is likely that a foreign country will try to influence next week's midterm elections, according to a new poll.

A Pew Research survey released Monday found that about 45 percent of respondents were at least somewhat confident that U.S. election systems are secure. However, only 8 percent said they were very confident in the security of the systems, and 55 percent said they are either not too or not at all confident that the systems are secure.

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When broken down by party, a majority of Republicans or respondents leaning toward the GOP were very or somewhat confident in the security of the systems, with 59 percent agreeing with the statements. However, just 34 percent of Democrats or those leaning Democratic said the same.

Respondents were also more likely to say that they believed that their state systems were secure, with 66 percent saying they were very or somewhat confident in the election systems within their own states.

Elections are administered by state and local officials, who can then turn to the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice if they need additional support or resources.

The survey also found that 67 percent of Americans believe it is very or somewhat likely that a foreign government like Russia will try to influence the midterm elections. Of those who said it was at least somewhat likely, 71 percent said that they thought foreign election interference is a major issue.

There was a significant partisan divide when it came to views on foreign election interference, with roughly 80 percent of Democrats and those leaning Democratic saying they think meddling is somewhat likely to play out in November. Fifty-three percent of Republican respondents said it is at least somewhat likely.

The poll also found that 76 percent of respondents believe tech companies like Twitter and Facebook have a responsibility to stop others from utilizing their platforms to influence the 2018 elections. But only 33 percent said they were at least somewhat confident in the companies' abilities to do so. 

The survey echoed previous studies that have found respondents have significant concerns about election security after Russia was determined to have successfully run an interference campaign in the 2016 presidential election.

Though federal officials have determined that Russia accessed a number of voter rolls during the 2016 elections, they say there is no evidence that any votes were actually tampered with.

Federal and state officials say they have taken steps to secure elections since 2016, and are collaborating across all levels of government in a way they haven't done before.

Pew conducted online interviews with 10,683 adults in the U.S. from Sept. 24 to Oct. 7 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.