Republicans say it should be harder to vote in America, while Democrats want to make it easier

April 01, 2021, 1:36 PM GMT+0

Republicans in Georgia recently passed new voting laws that may make voting harder in the state, including limits on voting by mail and a ban on volunteers giving free food and water to voters waiting in line outside polling stations. The latest Economist/YouGov poll shows that changes get much more support from Republicans than from Democrats — but not all of them are popular.

A majority of Republicans (57%) say it should be much harder (29%) or slightly harder (28%) for people to vote in America, while Democrats want to make it easier. Three in five Democrats (60%) say it should be much easier (50%) or slightly easier (10%) to vote.

Those divides are further amplified when looking at supporters of former President Donald Trump and the winner of the 2020 presidential election, President Joe Biden. Three-quarters of Biden voters say it should be easier to vote in American elections (72%), while 10% of Trump supporters say the same. In contrast, two-thirds of Trump voters say it should be harder to vote (65%) compared to 6% of Biden supporters who say the same.

Following his election loss, President Trump promoted unfounded claims that voter fraud was the reason for his defeat. While three in five (61%) Americans believe Biden legitimately won the presidential election, only one-quarter of Republicans (25%) agree. A majority of Americans who say Biden did not legitimately win the election (58%) believe that it should be harder to vote.

That narrative has largely emerged as Republican lawmakers’ justification for the voting restrictions recently signed into law in Georgia. Most Republicans are in favor of measures that say require photo identification to vote in-person (87% vs 7%), that absentee ballots should only be sent to voters who request them (77% vs 9%), and voters should only be allowed to vote by mail if they can’t vote in-person (73% vs 18%), among others.

A sizable number of Democrats (46%) also say they want people to have to request absentee ballots, rather than have them automatically sent to them (39%). Many Democrats would also require voters to show photo ID when voting in-person at the polls (48% support vs 38% oppose). But Democrats tend to reject (34% support, 47% oppose) requiring photo identification for those voting absentee, another part of the Georgia law.

Americans overall tend to favor (53% vs 28%) that element of the law.

Most Americans (59%) and three-quarters of Democrats support the free distribution of food and water to voters waiting in long lines, something prohibited by the Georgia law. Republicans are divided on this topic: 42% say volunteers should be able to give out food and water, while 39% say this should not be permitted.

As for which level of government should be responsible for setting the rules for voting, Democrats are more likely to believe Congress and the President should do this, while Republicans favor Governors and their state legislators. Most in both parties see a role for counties, too.

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov poll

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between March 27 - 30, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 2.9% for the overall sample

Image: Getty