[Image via pewresearch]
A new survey by The Pew Research Center reveals that voters were pleasantly surprised by the ease of voting in 2018 and have confidence in the election process and election security. From the release:
Voters approached the 2018 midterm elections with some trepidation about the voting process and many had concerns that U.S. election systems may be hacked. After the election, however, most say it was “very easy” to vote and confidence in election security has increased.
About three-quarters of those who report casting ballots in the midterm elections (76%) say that voting was “very easy.” In a survey conducted in October, just 44% of those who planned to vote expected that the process would be very easy.
Prior to the election, fewer than half of Americans (45%) were confident that elections across the U.S. would be secure from hacking and other technological threats; 55% said they were not too confident or not at all confident that elections would be secure.
After the election, a majority of Americans (64%) say they are confident that the elections were secure from hacking, though about a third (35%) still have little or no confidence in the security of the elections.
The national survey by Pew Research Center, supported by a grant from the Democracy Fund, was conducted Nov. 7-16 among 10,640 adults, including 8,579 who say they voted in the midterm elections. This survey compares attitudes about the elections and voting process with a survey conducted before the elections (Sept. 24-Oct. 7).
Voters also had a high opinion of their local election officials, but saw that confidence dip as the view shifts to the state and national level – though these officials still received somewhat positive ratings:
As the pre-election survey found, Americans have more positive views of their local election officials than those who run elections in their states or across the U.S.
Majorities say that poll workers in their community and officials who run elections locally (68% each) did a very good job during the elections.
However, a smaller majority (55%) say the officials who run elections in their state did a very good job, and just 23% give election officials across the United States very high job ratings.
Still, large majorities say both state officials and election officials across the U.S. did at least a somewhat good job. Relatively few (10%) say state officials did not do well, while 18% say the same about officials across the country…
Voters offer highly positive evaluations of election workers – especially those in their local communities – following the midterm elections. Nearly seven-in-ten (68%) say that poll workers in their community and officials who ran elections in their local area did their jobs very well. More than nine-in-ten say they did their jobs at least somewhat well.
While public confidence in local election workers and officials was high in the weeks before the election, voters’ retrospective evaluations are even more positive.
Across the board, voters express more satisfaction with local workers and officials than those at the state and federal level. Still, 89% say their state’s election officials did their jobs at least somewhat well, including 55% who say they performed very well.
And while only 23% say election officials across the country did their jobs very well, an additional 57% say they did at least somewhat well. In contrast to views of local and state officials and workers, evaluations of the performance of election officials across the country are only modestly higher than pre-election confidence levels among the general public.
The survey also reveals the continued trend toward early voting, with increasing numbers of ballots cast before Election Day – a phenomenon that extends (if unevenly) across demographic groups:
The share of the electorate that votes early has increased significantly over the past two decades. This year, the share of voters who report casting their ballots before Election Day (45%) is only 10 percentage points lower than the share that reports voting on Election Day (55%).
Older voters are more likely to report voting early: 54% of those age 65 and older say they voted before Election Day, compared with 44% of those ages 50 to 64 and 38% of those under 50.
White and black voters are more likely to say they turned out to vote on Election Day than beforehand (56% of white voters and 59% of black voters say they voted on Election Day). About half of Hispanic voters report voting on Election Day, while half say they voted early (49% vs. 50%).
In a very encouraging sign, voters reported rising confidence in the security of the election system despite pre-election concerns:
The public expresses considerably higher levels of confidence that the security of the election systems in their state and around the nation were secure from hacking than it did before the election. About three-quarters (77%) say they are very or somewhat confident that their state’s systems were secure from hacking and other technological threats, up 11 percentage points from the share saying this before the election (66%). And while just 45% expressed confidence in the security of systems in the U.S. before the election, more than six-in-ten (64%) now say this…
Among the 66% of Americans who before the elections said they were very or somewhat confident that state election systems were secure, nearly nine-in-ten (88%) continue to express confidence, while a 60% majority of those who were not too or not at all confident in the security of these systems before the elections now say they are at least somewhat confident they were secure.
This is a very positive report for the nation’s election system after a rough ride in the run-up to Election Day 2018. Thanks to Pew and the Democracy Fund for conducting and sharing these results; it’s reassuring to know that the election system is a source of confidence – especially given the stress it, and election officials, typically face in a Presidential election cycle like the one that’s now(!) upon us.
Stay tuned …