Poll: Majority of Americans more concerned about voter access than ineligible voters

National & World

But more than 3 in 4 Republicans prioritize making sure no ineligible people vote

In this Sept. 8, 2020 photo, voting booths are kept socially distant at the Chesterfield, N.H. polling site. A majority of President Donald Trump’s supporters plan to cast their ballot on Election Day, while about half of Joe Biden’s backers plan to vote by mail. That’s according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that finds 54% of voters say they will vote before polls open on Nov. 3. (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC NEWS) — A majority of all Americans prioritize ensuring that those who want to vote can do so, rather than making sure no ineligible people can vote, a new NBC News poll finds. 

But, while large majorities of Democrats and independents say that they’re more concerned with protecting eligible voters’ access to the polls, Republicans overwhelmingly say they are most concerned about making sure ineligible people do not vote. 

The survey finds that 58 percent of Americans say their bigger concern when it comes to voting is “making sure that everyone who wants to vote can do so.” That includes 87 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of independents. 

A smaller share of all Americans — 38 percent — say they are most concerned about “making sure that no one votes who is not eligible to vote.” More than three-quarters of Republicans — 77 percent — agree with that statement.

The enormous partisan split reflects a country deeply divided over the integrity of the 2020 election, as former President Donald Trump continues to falsely allege that the presidential election was tainted by fraud, and as Republican legislators around the country work to enact stricter voting laws that critics say are designed to dampen turnout from Democrats and specifically voters of color. 

Large majorities of Black and Hispanic Americans — 82 percent and 73 percent, respectively — say they are most focused on making sure all eligible voters can vote. White respondents, however, were evenly split between focusing on access for all voters and preventing ineligible votes from being cast. 

Americans overall also express confidence in elections in their own state. Three quarters — 74 percent — say they are confident that their state can administer a fair election in which all eligible voters are able to vote and the results are counted accurately, while just 25 percent disagree. 

That includes a majority of all partisans. Eighty-five percent of Democrats, 81 percent of independents and 59 percent of Republicans say they have confidence in elections in their own state. 

But while Democrats have a high degree of confidence in elections in their state, regardless of whether its residents voted for President Joe Biden (88 percent confident) or for Trump (80 percent confident) in 2020, Republicans are much less likely to be confident in their state’s elections if they live in a blue state. 

Among Republicans who live in a state that supported Trump in 2020, 76 percent say they are confident that their state can administer a fair election. But among those who live in a state that supported Biden, just 39 percent say they are confident, while 60 percent say they are not confident. 

The debate over access to the polls playing out in state legislatures around the country has had far-reaching consequences — even to the world of baseball, the poll finds. 

After Major League Baseball announced that it would pull its All Star game out of Georgia in protest of state’s new voting restrictions — nearly four in ten Republicans say they have negative feelings about the organization. 

Among Republicans, 22 percent say they have positive feelings toward the MLB, while 37 percent say they have negative ones. 

Among Democrats, 43 percent report positive feelings, while just 5 percent have a negative view.

The live-caller poll was conducted by Hart Research and Public Opinion Strategies from April 17-20, 2021. It has a margin of error for all adults of +/- 3.1 percentage points. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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