October 23, 2008

Liberal Dems Top Conservative Reps in Donations, Activism

Section 3: Voting Concerns and Confidence

Reports about the accuracy of the voting process have received a good deal of public attention this year; 43% say they have heard a lot about voter registration records and concerns about voter fraud and suppression. The issue has received particular attention among Republicans; half of GOP voters have heard a lot about this, compared with just under four-in-ten Democrats.

Moreover, Republicans express substantially more concern about possible voter fraud than Democrats do about the possibility of voter suppression. Fully 45% of Republicans believe it is a major problem that “people who are not eligible to vote may cast votes anyway or that some voters may vote multiple times.” This rises to fully two-thirds (66%) of Republicans who say they have heard a lot about these issues.

By comparison, just 29% of Democrats express the same amount of concern that “there are people trying to prevent eligible voters from voting by removing them from rolls or challenging their eligibility at the polls.” Even among Democrats who have heard a lot about these issues, this rises to only 37% seeing it as a major problem

But concerns about voter suppression are particularly acute among African Americans, 43% of whom say that people trying to prevent eligible voters from voting is a major problem. That is nearly double the number of whites (22%) who see this as a major problem. A solid majority (58%) of blacks who have heard a lot about these issues see possible voter suppression as a major problem. There is no difference in the share of whites and blacks who see the possibility of voter fraud as a major problem (32% and 35%, respectively.)

Confidence in Voting Process Dips

Voters’ confidence that their own ballots will be counted accurately has declined somewhat since 2004. Four years ago, 62% of American voters were very confident that their votes would be counted accurately. Today, 57% are very confident. The share saying they are “somewhat” confident has risen from 26% to 31% since 2004, while about the same number (11% in 2004, 10% today) say they are not too or not at all confident.

What had been a growing racial divide in views of the accuracy of the voting process has narrowed greatly, as African American confidence in the process has surged in the past two years. Just more than half (51%) of black voters are very confident that their votes will be counted properly, which is a substantial change from 2006 when just 30% of black voters had such expectations. In 2004, 47% of black voters were very confident their votes would be counted. Meanwhile, 59% of white voters are very confident that their ballots will be counted accurately, down slightly from 63% in 2006 and 65% in 2004.

Though Republican voters remain more confident about the accuracy of voting than Democrats or independents, there has been a notable decline in confidence among GOP voters this year. In 2004, 75% were very confident that their vote would be accurately tallied, and in 2006, 79% were very confident in an accurate vote count. Currently, 66% of Republicans hold that view.

By comparison, Democrats and independents are far less assured than are Republicans about the accuracy of the voting process, with 54% of each group saying they are very confident that their votes will be accurately counted. In October 2004, half of Democratic voters and 60% of independents said they were very confident their vote would be accurately counted.

There are fairly consistent disparities in confidence about the voting process across gender, age and educational lines, compared with the past two elections. Women are six points less likely than men (54% vs. 60%) to say they are very confident their vote will be counted accurately. Just under half (48%) of 18-29 year-old voters say they are very confident their vote will be counted accurately, compared with about two-thirds (66%) of voters age 65 and over. Voters with a college degree are far more confident about their vote being counted than voters who never attended college (62% vs. 53%).