With election reform bills working their way state legislatures across the country, including a sweeping bill that just became law in Georgia and a much more modest bill in North Carolina, how do voters feel about those reforms?
Fortunately, we do not have to guess. An Economist/Yougov poll conducted March 20-23 asked American adults about election fraud and several proposed reforms. Here are the key takeaways:
1. “Voter fraud” was a bigger problem than “voter suppression” in 2020
34% of respondents said that voter fraud was a bigger problem than voter suppression in the 2020 election while 31% said that voter suppression was the bigger concern. 15% said that they were about equally a problem while 21% were not sure.
Of course, the question, “What do you think was a bigger problem in the 2020 election,” was comparing the two issues. People could have thought that both or neither were major problems. We also don’t know if those surveyed differentiated voter fraud from the large category of election fraud. All we can determine is that a plurality of Americans sees voter fraud as a bigger problem.
2. Americans support reforms that supposedly make it “more difficult to vote”
A plurality of those surveyed, 44% said that they opposed laws that “make it more difficult to vote” while 39% supported such laws. However, the question did not define “difficult.” We could assume that most people would oppose a law requiring voters to run a gauntlet before they vote but support measures such as voter registration, but the question gives us no clue about what election provisions Americans support.
The good news is that we don’t have to guess what Americans think of some of the election reforms that have been proposed around the county; they are included in the survey. They indicated Americans tend to support election provisions that would supposedly “make it more difficult to vote:”
- 47% of Americans think that voters should be allowed to vote by mail only if they can’t vote in person while only 41% support no-excuse absentee mail voting. (North Carolina currently has no-excuse absentee voting.)
- 62% say that absentee ballots should only be sent to voters who request them while only 23% believe that ballots should be sent to every registered voter. (North Carolina law prohibits boards of elections from sending ballots to people who have not requested them.)
- A solid majority, 66%, believe that a photo ID should be required to vote in person while only 21% disagree. (North Carolina has a voter photo ID requirement in its constitution but the law implementing that requirement is currently tied up in lawsuits.)
- Only 36% support same-day voter registration on election day while 49% oppose. (North Carolina has same-day registration during early voting but not on election day.)
- Only 31% support automatic voter registration (AVR) while 54% oppose. (North Carolina does not have AVR.)
Most of those positions place Americans solidly in opposition to provisions of HR1, a bill before Congress that would make elections less secure nationwide.
When you let people know the actual content of election reforms, instead of just slogans like “make it easier to vote,” they support election integrity.