In early September, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), with the purpose of preventing fraud in the state’s elections. The Center for Excellence in Polling (CEP) recently surveyed likely Texas voters to gauge their opinions on this new law and how its passage affected voter confidence in election processes.
Results indicate that SB 1 has strong support throughout the state among Republicans and moderate support among Independents. While we anticipated Democrat opposition to SB 1, the clearly biased and consistent negative responses to reasonable election reforms indicate the progressive narrative is influencing opinion more strongly than we have previously seen.
Voters largely support SB 1.
Almost half of likely Texas voters say they supported the new election law prior to it being passed.
However, only 34% of voters say they “knew a lot about the law” prior to it being passed.
One-quarter of voters had never heard of it or said they didn’t know any details.
almost half said they knew just “some details.”
These results reveal the need to conduct a comprehensive education campaign on issues as controversial as election integrity. Once voters understand the provisions of the law, they are more likely to support it.
Texan voters support securing vote by mail.
The survey outlined specific changes included in SB 1 and asked respondents to indicate whether the change increases or decreases their confidence in future elections, or whether it does not change their level of confidence in future elections.
Responses indicate that Texans largely support securing the absentee voting process. Almost half said that their confidence in elections increases knowing that SB 1 requires voters to request an absentee ballot application before the state is allowed to send them one. Republicans show strong favor (72%) as do a plurality of Independents (47%), while more than half of all Democrats responded that allowing voters to decide for themselves whether they want an application to vote absentee decreased their confidence in elections (58%).
Similarly, SB 1 now requires mail-in ballot applications to include a driver’s license number, the last four digits of a Social Security number, or a sworn statement from the voter indicating that they have neither. Again, almost half of all voters (48%)—including almost half of all Independents—say this reform increases their confidence in elections. Meanwhile, 45% of Democrats say that a voter identifying themselves decreases their confidence in elections.
Our results are similar to polling conducted by the University of Houston (UH) and Texas Southern University (TSH) on the legislation’s provisions. In the UH/TSH poll, more than half of all voters support preventing election officials from mailing unsolicited absentee ballot applications. This polling also validates our own results, as nearly three-quarters of Texas voters say they support requiring a government-issued ID number to be included on all mail-in ballot applications and absentee ballots.
Democrat voters continue to toe the line of the progressive narrative on election integrity.
Poll results place Democrats squarely, yet unsurprisingly, in opposition to any reform that will objectively increase security and transparency in elections. Their opposition defies reason when the implications of SB 1’s reforms are seriously considered.
For example, more than half of all Democrat voters say their confidence in elections decreases with the requirement that the Texas Secretary of State is now required to verify voter registrations monthly (51%). It is worth noting that Democrats oppose a measure that help will ensure that those voting in Texas elections are eligible, still living, and residents of the state.
Half of all Democrats also said that an SB 1 provision which will ensure individuals who are registered to vote are legal citizens of the United States decreases their confidence in elections. But they’re in the minority here—55% of all voters responded that the provision increases confidence in elections. Most Republicans (87%) and almost half of Independents (45%) say this increases their confidence in elections.
Further, half of all Democrat voters say their confidence in elections decreases now that four counties will be randomly selected by the Texas Secretary of State for vote counting audits on even-numbered election years (50%).
Partisan narratives are driving opinions on election reform.
There is a possible explanation for why measures ensuring that election processes are open only to those eligible and are being conducted legally and fairly make Democrats feel less confident in elections: The influence of partisan narratives on election integrity are their guiding light. Secure and fair elections are part of the fabric of our nation. It is vulnerable process that demands measures which maintain its integrity. Yet Democrats have long associated any election reform with threats to their agenda which includes risky reforms such as allowing non-citizens to vote and making it illegal for a poll worker to challenge the eligibility of a voter.
This has created a widespread refusal on the part of Democrats to support election laws that secure the vote, even if the outcomes include protections for voters, secure ballots, or create transparent, accountable processes. Such cognitive dissonance can only be the result of partisan unwillingness to break from entrenched narratives about election integrity.
And in a fascinating twist, more Democrats responded that they were “not very confident” or “not confident at all” in Texas election processes prior to the passage of SB 1 (28%). This is four points higher than Republicans, and double that of Independents with this response (14%).
Democrat responses said they held the least amount of confidence in Texas elections, yet they also are clearly unsupportive of measures that could objectively increase their confidence by improving transparency and preventing fraud.
Independents support measures that improve accountability.
With the passage of SB 1, election officials who violate election law may now face civil penalties, including termination of their employment—more than half of all Independents say this increases their confidence in elections (54%), and 56% of all voters respond the same.
Similarly, SB 1 bans organizations from paying individuals to collect and return completed ballots on behalf of other voters—also known as ballot harvesting. More than half of all Independents also say this increases their confidence (56%).
Democrat responses were relatively split on enforcing civil penalties for election officials that violate election law and prohibiting ballot harvesting. Only slightly more than one-quarter of voters responded that these measures would decrease their confidence (35% and 36%, respectively). This may present future opportunities on these two issues, as Independents show openness to them, and Democrats are not overwhelmingly dead set against them.
The Texas legislature is in the driver’s seat on election reform.
The Texas bill was almost identical to legislation in the Kentucky state legislature that received broad bipartisan support. We speculate the Democrat resistance in Texas is likely due to a broader effort by the party to discredit any legislation proposed by the GOP.
Still, the legislature can move forward knowing that voters look to them on election reform. More than half of all voters say that now that SB 1 requires state and local officials to be required to have approval from the state legislature before they change (53%) or create any new election procedures (52%), their confidence in elections increases.