Voting laws: Americans support requiring proof of citizenship to vote

Linley SandersData Journalist
July 26, 2022, 5:25 PM GMT+0

Which is a bigger problem in the United States: voter fraud, or eligible voters not being allowed to vote? It depends on who you ask.

According to the latest Economist/YouGov poll, most Democrats say that eligible voters being denied the right to vote is more of a widespread problem than people committing voter fraud (60% say being denied the right to vote is more widespread; 11% say voter fraud is). Just 9% of Republicans say denying eligible voters is the bigger problem, while 61% say it's voter fraud.

The notion that voter fraud is a significant problem (though research shows it’s exceedingly rare) is behind an ongoing lawsuit in Arizona about whether voters in presidential elections should be required to show proof of citizenship. Nearly two-thirds of Americans (65%) say people should be required to show proof of citizenship in order to vote in elections, while 23% say this should not be a requirement. Among Democrats, Independents, and also Republicans, more people say voters should need to show proof of citizenship than say they should not.

YouGov asked U.S. adult citizens — the only group surveyed in this poll — if they would personally be able to provide proof of their citizenship on short notice, which is often the case for voting. Proof could be a U.S. birth certificate, a passport, or a certificate of citizenship. An overwhelming majority (83%) say they would be able to, while 6% say they would not. Americans who say they could prove citizenship on short notice are more likely than people who either could not or who are unsure whether they could to support requiring proof of citizenship to vote.

In another case that was based around election administration, a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling in July made ballot drop boxes illegal. Half of Americans (49%) support ballot drop boxes, while 34% are opposed and 17% are unsure. There is higher support among Democrats for ballot drop boxes (77% support them; 14% are opposed) than among Republicans (30% support; 60% opposed)

Election integrity is expected to be a focus of November's midterm elections, as are ongoing allegations that the 2020 elections were unfair. The Economist/YouGov poll shows that there are some doubts about the 2020 presidential election. Just 40% of Americans have “a great deal” or “quite a bit” of confidence that the 2020 election was held fairly, while 14% say that they have a moderate amount of confidence. More than one-third (36%) have “only a little” confidence or “none at all.” One in 11 (9%) are not sure.

Looking ahead to the 2022 midterm elections, Americans are more split on whether it will be held fairly: 32% have quite a bit or a great deal of confidence it will be, 23% have a moderate amount of confidence, and 32% have a little or none. Democrats are more likely to have a great deal or quite a bit of confidence in the 2020 election (71%) than they are in the yet-to-come 2022 election (53%). Republicans are more likely to say they have no confidence “at all” in the 2020 presidential election’s fairness (53%) than to say that about the 2022 midterms (21%), but a majority in each case has only a little confidence or none at all.

– Carl Bialik and Taylor Orth contributed to this article

This poll was conducted on July 16 - 19, 2022 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens. Explore more on the methodology and data for this Economist/YouGov poll.

Image: Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

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