Is Public Confident That Votes Will Be Accurately Counted on Nov. 7?

by Joseph Carroll

Americans trust electronic, paper ballots equally

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The vote-count debacle in Florida's 2000 presidential election results focused national attention on the vote recording and counting process. With the latest round of federal elections set to take place in less than two weeks, a USA Today/Gallup poll finds roughly one in four Americans saying they are "very confident" that 1) votes across the country will be accurately cast and counted in this fall's elections and that 2) workers at voting facilities across the country will be capable of resolving any problems with voting that arise on Election Day. A majority of Americans express at least some confidence in the nation's voting system and poll workers. The public places equal trust in electronic or computerized ballots and paper ballots to correctly record its votes this year.

Republicans and Democrats differ in their overall confidence in the country's voting system, with Republicans much more likely than Democrats to express confidence in the accuracy of the vote counts, in the workers at polling facilities, and in the trustworthiness of electronic ballots.

Public Confidence in Accurate Vote Counts on Nov. 7

The Oct. 20-22 poll finds that 28% of Americans say they are very confident that votes across the country will be accurately cast and counted in this year's elections. An additional 47% say they are somewhat confident in the voting system. Seventeen percent say they are "not too confident," and 8% express no confidence at all. Gallup asked this question twice during the 2004 presidential election campaign, and the results from each of the three surveys have shown only modest fluctuations.

Americans express an even higher degree of confidence that the votes at their own voting facilities will be accurately cast and counted on Election Day. Two in three Americans (66%) say they are very confident about their own voting facilities, while only 28% feel this way about votes recorded nationwide.

Republicans (including independents who lean to the Republican Party) express much more confidence than Democrats (including Democratic-leaning independents) in the voting system, both across the country and locally. Democrats are much more likely to say they are not confident about the voting system. This most likely reflects, at least in part, Democratic memories of alleged voting irregularities in Florida in 2000 and perhaps more recent allegations of voting fraud in Ohio in 2004.

Confidence That Votes Will Be Accurately Cast and Counted
Results by Party Affiliation

Oct. 20-22, 2006

Republicans
(including
"leaners")

Democrats
(including
"leaners")

%

%

Votes across the country

Very confident

41

17

Somewhat confident

50

45

Not too confident

4

27

Not at all confident

4

10

Votes at your voting facility

Very confident

80

58

Somewhat confident

14

31

Not too confident

3

9

Not at all confident

2

2

Americans' Confidence That Voting Problems Will Be Resolved on Election Day

The poll also asked Americans about their overall confidence that the workers at voting facilities will be capable of resolving any problems that arise on Election Day. The results show that 25% of Americans are very confident in polling-station workers across the country and an additional 56% are somewhat confident. Americans express much greater confidence in the polling workers in their own voting facilities, with 51% saying they are very confident and 40% somewhat confident.

These attitudes also vary by partisanship. Twenty-nine percent of Republicans say they are very confident that workers across the country will be able to resolve any voting problems on Election Day, and 60% feel this way about workers at their own voting facilities. Among Democrats, both percentages are lower, at 20% for national poll workers and 47% for local poll workers. Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans (24% vs. 12%) to express little or no confidence in workers across the country, but are equally as likely as Republicans to feel this way about their local workers.

Confidence That Workers Will Be Able to Resolve Problems With Voting
Results by Party Affiliation

Oct. 20-22, 2006

Republicans
(including
"leaners")

Democrats
(including
"leaners")

%

%

Votes across the country

Very confident

29

20

Somewhat confident

58

55

Not too confident

9

22

Not at all confident

3

2

Votes at your voting facility

Very confident

60

47

Somewhat confident

31

44

Not too confident

6

7

Not at all confident

2

*

* Less than 0.5%

Electronic vs. Paper Ballots

There has been some controversy recently about voters using electronic or computerized ballots to cast votes. For example, many computerized balloting systems offer no proof that a voter actually voted for a particular candidate (should a recount be necessary), electronic voting machines can be easily hacked, and other problems.

The latest poll asked Americans how much they trust that their own votes would be accurately recorded if they voted by electronic or computerized ballot, or by paper ballot. The results show similar levels of trust among Americans for both types of ballots, with 77% saying they have a "great deal" or "fair amount" of trust in paper ballots and 80% expressing this level of trust for electronic ballots. Americans are somewhat more likely to say they have a great deal of trust in electronic ballots than in paper ballots.

Republicans (60%) are nearly twice as likely as Democrats (36%) to say they have a great deal of trust in electronic ballots, though majorities of both partisan groups express at least a fair amount of trust. The two party groups differ only slightly in their views of paper ballots, with 42% of Republicans and 35% of Democrats saying they have a great deal of trust in them.

Trust in Electronic/Paper Ballots
Results by Party Affiliation

Oct. 20-22, 2006

Republicans
(including
"leaners")

Democrats
(including
"leaners")

%

%

Electronic Ballots

Great deal

60

36

Fair amount

30

37

Not much

5

17

Not at all

4

10

Paper Ballots

Great deal

42

35

Fair amount

39

41

Not much

13

16

Not at all

5

7

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,002 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 20-22, 2006. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

For results based on the 476 national adults in the Form A half-sample and 526 national adults in the Form B half-sample, the maximum margins of sampling error are ±5 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Q.30-31 SPLIT SAMPLED

30. How confident are you that, across the country, the votes will be accurately cast and counted in this year's election -- very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident?

BASED ON 476 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A

Very
confident

Some-
what
confi-
dent

Not too
confident

Not at all
confident

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Oct 20-22

28

47

17

8

*

2004 Oct 14-16 ^

29

43

21

6

1

2004 Jul 19-21 ^

34

42

15

6

3

* Less than 0.5%

^ WORDING: How confident are you that, across the country, the votes for president will be accurately cast and counted in this year's election -- very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident?

31. How confident are you that, at the voting facility where you vote, the votes will be accurately cast and counted in this year's election -- very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident?

BASED ON 526 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B

Very
confident

Some-
what
confi-
dent

Not too
confident

Not at all
confident

No
opinion

2006 Oct 20-22

66%

25

6

2

*

* Less than 0.5%

32. As you may know, at some voting facilities, the votes are cast using paper ballots, and in others, they are cast using electronic or computerized ballots. How much would you, personally, trust that your vote would be accurately recorded if you voted by -- [RANDOM ORDER] -- a great deal, a fair amount, not much, or not at all?

Electronic or computerized ballot

Great
deal

Fair
amount

Not
much

Not
at all

No
opinion

2006 Oct 20-22

46%

34

12

7

1

Paper ballot

Great
deal

Fair
amount

Not
much

Not
at all

No
opinion

2006 Oct 20-22

38%

39

15

7

1

Q.33-34 SPLIT SAMPLED

33. How confident are you that the workers at voting facilities across the country will be capable of resolving any problems with voting that arise on Election Day -- very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident?

BASED ON 476 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A

Very
confident

Some-
what
confident

Not too
confident

Not at all
confident

No
opinion

2006 Oct 20-22

25%

56

15

3

1

34. How confident are you that the workers at the voting facility where you vote will be capable of resolving any problems with voting that arise on Election Day -- very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident?

BASED ON 526 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B

Very
confident

Some-
what
confident

Not too
confident

Not at all
confident

No
opinion

2006 Oct 20-22

51%

40

7

2

1

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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/25189/Public-Confident-Votes-Will-Accurately-Counted-Nov.aspx
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