Most Americans support easier early voting despite GOP efforts to restrict it, new poll finds

·4 min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A majority of Americans believe it should be easier to vote early and want national standards for voting by mail in federal elections, according to the results of a Monmouth University poll released on 21 June.

The nationwide poll found that 71 per cent of Americans believe in-person early voting should be easier to do, while 69 per cent of respondents want national guidelines for voting by mail and for in-person early voting in every state.

The results follow a wave of nearly 400 Republican-backed bills in nearly every state, including at least 22 laws passed in 14 states, that make it harder to vote by eliminating mail-in options and reducing early voting hours.

Those provisions are critical to the For The People Act, a White House-supported voting rights bill that would standardise early voting periods, mandating at least 15 consecutive days of early voting for 10 hours a day in federal elections, while also prohibiting states from restricting access to mail-in ballots.

Monmouth found that 92 per cent of Democrats, 63 per cent of independents, and 51 percent of Republicans support vote-by-mail standards.

Despite broad bipartisan support among American voters across several polls, Republican lawmakers in GOP-dominated state legislatures and in Congress have universally opposed the For The People Act.

But the poll results also reflect a conflicting set of beliefs among American voters when it comes to voting rights and how to protect them.

While a majority of respondents support federal standards for voting by mail, 39 per cent believe it should be harder to do.

Support for requiring a photo ID to vote – which voting rights advocates argue disproportionately impacts low-income voters of colour who often cannot meet requirements and fees to obtain a photo ID – is also broadly popular among respondents from both parties, including 62 per cent of Democrats.

(The survey asked respondents “In general, do you support or oppose requiring voters to show a photo ID in order to vote?” but did not provide reasons why someone may not be able to obtain one.)

“The bottom line seems to be that most Democrats and Republicans want to take the potential for election results to be questioned off the table. The problem, though, is they aren’t likely to agree on how to get there,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

More Americans (50 per cent) believe disenfranchisement is a major problem than those who say the same for voter fraud (37 per cent) – and Republicans are overwhelmingly more likely to believe voter fraud is a major issue (64 per cent) compared to Democrats or independent voters.

Donald Trump’s ongoing myth of a “stolen election” and widespread fraud that shapes the outcomes of elections have been rejected by his own campaign and administration officials, as well as the US Department of Justice, FBI, elections administrators from both parties across the US, and judges that tossed out meritless lawsuits filed by the former president to discount millions of Americans’ votes.

“Disenfranchising eligible voters is nominally a bigger concern than voter fraud, but the sizeable number of Americans who cling to the view that fraud determined the 2020 election poses an intractable challenge for reaching any public consensus on voting access,” Mr Murray said in a statement.

But nearly one-third of Americans (32 per cent of respondents) still believe Joe Biden only won the presidency “due to voter fraud,” the poll found. That includes roughly 63 per cent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independent voters.

Eight months after he was elected and repeat hand counts confirmed the results in states that Mr Trump lost, the poll results mirror a survey from November, in which 66 per cent of Republican-leaning voters believed Mr Biden illegitimately won the election. Subsequent polls have remained stable in months that followed.

“The continuing efforts to question the validity of last year’s election is deepening the partisan divide in ways that could have long-term consequences for our Democracy, even if most Americans don’t quite see it that way yet,” Mr Murray said.

The Monmouth poll was performed the week of 9 June among 810 US adults, with a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points.

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