November 21, 2016

Low Marks for Major Players in 2016 Election – Including the Winner

4. The voting process

A majority of voters say they are confident their own vote was accurately counted in the election, though fewer are confident in the accurate counting of votes across the country. This pattern is little changed from recent presidential elections.

Overall, 90% of voters say they are at least somewhat confident their own vote was accurately counted, including fully 71% who are very confident. Few (9%) are not too or not at all confident their vote was counted.

There are no differences in confidence between voters who cast their ballot on Election Day and those who voted early.

Voters are slightly less likely to be at least somewhat confident votes across the country were accurately counted (82%), and fewer than half of voters (45%) say they are very confident about this.

The share very confident in the counting of votes across the country is on par with 2004 and 2008, but is higher than it was four years ago, when confidence was lower than it had been in recent years: In 2012, only about three-in-ten (31%) voters were very confident that votes across the country were accurately counted.

Those who voted for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are about equally likely to say they are very confident that votes across the country were accurately counted (47% vs. 44%). This stands in stark contrast to recent cycles, when those who voted for the winning candidate expressed significantly more confidence in the national vote count than those who voted for the losing candidate.

Four years ago, about twice as many Obama voters (42%) as Romney voters (21%) said they were very confident that votes across the country had been accurately counted. And in 2008, 56% of Obama voters were very confident that votes across the country were counted accurately, compared with just 29% of McCain voters.

In 2004, fully 72% of Bush voters were very confident in the national vote count; just 18% of Kerry voters said the same.

4_3Voters express more confidence about the vote count now than they did earlier in the campaign cycle. In August, about six-in-ten registered voters were very (28%) or somewhat (34%) confident that votes across the country would be accurately counted; 82% of those who voted say this now.

This difference is attributable to Trump voters’ increased confidence in the count’s accuracy. Fully 51% of registered voters who supported Trump in August were not too or not at all confident in an accurate national vote count, while 37% were somewhat confident and just 11% were very confident. Today, just 11% of Trump voters say they are not too or not at all confident votes were accurately counted.

The views of Clinton voters on this question are little different than they were in the summer: In August, 79% of Clinton supporters were very or somewhat confident votes across the country would be counted accurately, including about half (49%) who were very confident. Today, 76% of Clinton voters are at least somewhat confident votes across the country were accurately counted, including 44% who are very confident.

The same pattern exists in confidence that one’s own vote was accurately counted: 75% of Trump voters now say they are “very” confident their own vote was counted accurately, double the share  of Trump supporters who said in August that they were very confident their vote would be counted accurately in the November election. By comparison, the 67% of Clinton voters who now say they are very confident their vote was counted accurately is identical to the share of Clinton supporters who expected that their votes would be counted accurately in August.

Voters experience at the polls

4_4About six-in-ten voters say they cast their ballot on Election Day (59%), while 41% say they voted early. The share of voters casting a ballot before Election Day has risen steadily in recent years. In 2004, just 20% of those who voted said they did so before Election Day. In the current survey, Trump and Clinton voters are about equally likely to say they voted early (39% and 42%, respectively).

Among all in-person voters, 39% reported having to wait in line to vote, while a majority (61%) did not have to wait. Nearly a quarter of all voters (23%) waited less than 30 minutes, while 15% waited longer.

Overall, those who cast a ballot early were more likely to experience wait time than those who voted on Election Day. This was also the case in 2012 and 2008. Overall, 48% of in-person voters who cast a ballot before Election Day had to wait in line, and roughly half of those voters had to wait longer than 30 minutes (22% of all early in-person voters). By contrast, just about a third (35%) of those who voted on Election Day had to wait, including just 13% who waited longer than 30 minutes.

Most voters knew who they were voting for before the debates

4_5Voters’ reports of when they made their decision between the candidates vary little between Trump and Clinton voters and are similar to past elections without an incumbent president.

Overall, 20% of voters say they made up their minds about who they were voting for before 2016. About half of voters say they decided early in the year (22%), or during and just after the party conventions (32%); 15% say they definitely decided to vote for their candidate during or just after the debates and 7% decided within a week of Election Day.