With a week to go before Election Day, Americans are confident their local election authorities are up to the essential tasks of making sure that elections are run smoothly and that votes are counted accurately. Nearly nine-in-ten (89%) have confidence in poll workers in their community to do a good job, and majorities say the same about local and state election officials.
Yet the public expresses less confidence that elections across the United States will be handled as well as local ones. And Americans are deeply concerned about whether the midterms will be secure from foreign hacking.
Two years after Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election, 67% of Americans say it is very or somewhat likely that either Russia or other foreign governments will try to influence the midterm elections.
Fewer than half (45%) are very or somewhat confident that election systems are secure from hacking, with just 8% saying they are very confident in the security of election systems nationwide.
A major new survey of public attitudes on voting and elections in the U.S. was conducted by Pew Research Center from Sept. 24-Oct. 7 among 10,683 adults, supported by a grant from the Democracy Fund. It finds that, despite concerns over election security, Americans have very positive feelings about voting: Fully 91% say voting in elections is “important,” while 68% say that “voting gives people like me some say about how government runs things.”
In addition, a substantial majority (80%) of adults say they expect it will be very or somewhat easy for them to vote in next week’s congressional elections, though just 38% anticipate the experience will be very easy.
These sentiments are notably bipartisan. For example, identical shares in both parties (69% each) say voting gives people a say in government. Yet there are deep partisan disagreements over other aspects of elections in this country, and many are centered on fundamental questions about the voting process.
Perhaps the most telling partisan divisions are on how easy voting should be in the United States. Overall, two-thirds of the public (67%) says “everything possible should be done to make it easy for every citizen to vote,” while only about a third (32%) say citizens “should have to prove they want to vote” by registering in advance.
More than eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (84%) say “everything possible should be done to make it easy for every citizen to vote.” By contrast, only about half of Republicans (48%) say this. A similar share of Republicans (51%) think people should have to prove they want to vote by registering ahead of time.
The Republicans’ skepticism about making it easier to vote – and expanding the franchise – is seen across multiple measures in the survey. A majority of Republicans (57%) say that if election rules were changed to make it easier to register and vote, this would result in elections being less secure. Among Democrats, fewer than half as many (22%) express this view; a sizable majority of Democrats (76%) say easing election rules would not make elections less secure….