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Confidence in Accuracy of U.S. Election Matches Record Low
Politics

Confidence in Accuracy of U.S. Election Matches Record Low

Confidence in Accuracy of U.S. Election Matches Record Low

Story Highlights

  • 59% are confident that votes will be accurately cast and counted nationwide
  • Republicans' confidence (44%) at record low for either party
  • Postal service delays, fraudulently cast votes seen as "major" problems

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Fifty-nine percent of Americans say they are "very" (19%) or "somewhat confident" (40%) that votes in the upcoming presidential election will be accurately cast and counted throughout the country, matching the low Gallup recorded in 2008.

Line graph. Americans' confidence in the accuracy of elections. Currently, 59% of Americans are very or somewhat confident that votes in this year's presidential election will be accurately cast and counted.

The latest figure, collected in Gallup's Sept. 14-28 poll, comes at a time when President Donald Trump has repeatedly questioned the validity of voting this year, which will include widespread mail voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. As in 2008, the country is grappling with a global economic crisis, and Americans' satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S. is near its historical low point.

As would be expected given Trump's view, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (44%) are expressing far less confidence than Democrats and Democratic leaners (74%) in the accuracy of the election.

The 11-percentage-point drop since 2018 in the national figure on confidence in election accuracy is largely driven by a 34-point drop among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. The GOP's current 44% level of confidence is the lowest Gallup has recorded for identifiers/leaners of either major political party in its trend dating back to 2004.

Democrats, on the other hand, have become slightly more confident in election accuracy since 2018, though this falls short of this group's high of 83% in 2016.

Line graph. Americans' confidence in the accuracy of elections, by political affiliation. Currently, 74% of Democrats are very or somewhat confident that votes in this year's presidential election will be accurately cast and counted, compared with 44% of Republicans.

Americans More Confident in Local Vote-Counting

Americans are more likely to express confidence in the accuracy of voting counts where they personally vote. About four in five say they are "very" (47%) or "somewhat confident" (32%) that votes will be accurately cast and counted locally. The percentage of Americans who are "very" confident in local vote counting is more than double the level for votes counted nationally.

The combined percentage of Americans who are at least somewhat confident in accurate local vote counting has waned over time, however, from a high of 91% in 2006 to a new low of 79% today.

Line graph. Americans' confidence that votes will be counted accurately at their own voting facilities. 79% of Americans are very or somewhat confident that their vote will be cast and counted accurately at their voting facility.

Postal Service Delays, Fraudulent Means of Casting Votes Seen as Biggest Problems

Of four possible complications that could occur in the election, absentee ballots not being counted because they arrive late is the one that Americans see as the most problematic, with 55% predicting it will be a "major problem." Nearly as many, 53%, say people casting fraudulent votes is a major problem.

Forty-seven percent of U.S. adults say that eligible voters not being allowed to cast a vote is a big problem for the election -- much higher than the 25% to 34% range Gallup recorded between 2004 and 2016. Forty-five percent say that ineligible voters casting votes is a major problem, similar to the previous high of 44% in 2008.

Line graph. Americans' perceptions of the severity of voter eligibility issues. 47% say eligible voters not being allowed to cast a vote is a major problem. Additionally, 45% of Americans say votes cast by those not eligible to vote is a major problem.

Late-arriving absentee ballots are the only voting issue that majorities of both major political parties see as a major problem: 51% of Republicans and 63% of Democrats.

Republicans are more than twice as likely as Democrats to express concern about fraudulent means of casting votes and ineligible voters casting votes, while Democrats are about twice as likely as Republicans to anticipate that eligible voters not being allowed to cast a vote will be a major problem.

Perceptions of the Severity of Various Election Issues, by Political Party
Republicans Independents Democrats
% Major problem % Major problem % Major problem
Absentee ballots not being counted because the postal service delivered them to the election offices too late 51 52 63
People using illegal or fraudulent means to cast votes 70 54 32
Eligible voters not being allowed to cast a vote 32 47 62
Votes being cast by people who, by law, are not eligible to vote 67 42 24
Gallup, Sept. 14-28, 2020

Bottom Line

Though most Americans have confidence in the accuracy of vote counting nationwide in the upcoming presidential election, the latest figure is lower than it has been in most prior elections. Confidence is particularly low among Republicans, likely reflecting the repeated warnings of their party's standard-bearer to be on the lookout for fraud. As is often seen in public attitudes, Americans are much more confident about vote-counting in their local area than they are about the national situation, but even this is down in the past decade.

Sizable percentages of U.S. adults see major problems with voting in the coming elections, but these views vary: Republicans are more concerned about issues of voter fraud, and Democrats are more concerned about eligible voters being kept out of the voting process. The one uniting issue is late deliveries of ballots from the U.S. Postal Service, which is something the Postal Service itself has raised concerns about.

Even before the challenges posed by COVID-19 and Trump's open skepticism of the process, the Gallup World Poll in 2019 found that the U.S. had "one of the worst ratings across the world's wealthiest democracies" when it came to confidence in the honesty of elections.

View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.


Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/321665/confidence-accuracy-election-matches-record-low.aspx
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