Publication date: July 13, 2021
Written by: Stefani Buhajla
The national debate around elections and perceived or actual wrongdoings reached a fever pitch in early January. Since then, states have been racing to ensure their election laws will withstand scrutiny and instill confidence in voters ahead of the 2022 cycle.
The Center for Excellence in Polling has been conducting public opinion research around various election integrity reforms at both the state and federal levels since December 2020. This poll focused solely on a narrow transparency measure involving voter registration rolls.
Recently, Foundation for Government Accountability researchers discovered that many states make it extremely difficult to obtain a public voter roll, which is supposed to be available to citizens. In some cases, states (Alabama and Wisconsin, for example) charge upwards of $10,000 for a copy and in others, they provide the list via CD-ROM.
Unexpectedly, we found there is strong Democrat support (66 percent) for making voter registration rolls available online, for free, in a user-friendly format. In fact, five of the six questions asked were more strongly supported by those on the Left. Given our knowledge of broad attitudes held by Republicans, those on the Right may be softer on support (50 percent) for this measure due to their concerns over personal privacy—especially given the recent publicity around the cancel culture phenomenon. Independents were only slightly more receptive to improving voter roll access than Republicans (54 percent).
Our top message with self-identified Republicans related to decreasing fraud. When GOP respondents know this measure would allow them to double check the voter rolls for inconsistencies, they come in at 61 percent more likely to support it. This was the only message where GOP support surpassed that of Democrats, but only by a few points.
more likely to support
allowing everyone, including everyday citizens, to double-check the voter rolls for fraud.
The mere mention of the word “fraud” can itself be polarizing. And while we might expect the Republican participants to give positive responses to this question, it is notable that Democrats were not put off by it. “Fraud” seemed to have little negative impact on the Left as they still had a strong 58 percent favorable attitude after hearing about it.
The combined totals for all parties put support for posting voter rolls at a significant 61 percent when they know it will increase transparency in elections.
more likely to support
when they know it will increase transparency in elections.
The sharing of already publicly available voter data is a winning strategy where state legislators on the Left and the Right can—and should—come together to sponsor bipartisan reform. It is popular and states such as Georgia are already reaping the rewards of a more confident electorate for having enacted commonsense measures that contribute to fair and open election processes.