Just 1 out of 4 voters (26%) are confident that the right person was declared the winner in each of the last two presidential elections.
Most (56%) believe at least one of the last two presidents was illegitimately put into office. That includes 26% who believe Hillary Clinton was the legitimate winner in 2016 and 31% who believe Donald Trump was the legitimate winner in 2020. Another 17% are not sure who really won at least one of the elections. One percent believe the wrong person was declared the winner both times.
Given that high level of distrust, it’s no surprise that 77% of voters believe it is important to reform voting laws and procedures before the midterm elections in 2022. That view is shared by 83% of Republicans, 77% of Democrats and 71% of independent voters.
Hoping to capitalize on that sentiment, Democrats in the House of Representatives just passed a bill promoting sweeping reform of the way America votes. The legislation, known as HR1, was passed without a single Republican vote and will soon be considered by the Senate. A look at the provisions of HR1 show how Congress can take a broadly shared national objective and turn it into a partisan measure.
Polling I conducted for FreedomWorks shows that some provisions of HR1 are quite popular with the general public. Sixty-five percent favor making Election Day a national holiday and most (56%) like the idea of offering same-day voter registration.
Other aspects of the proposal reveal a more partisan divide. For example, HR1 would require that all states allow at least 15 days of early voting. On the surface, this seems popular — just 17% of voters think early voting should be outlawed. However, 46% believe the early voting period should be shorter than 15 days.
So, I asked 1,200 registered voters whether they would prefer a requirement that states allow at least 15 days of early voting or no more than 14 days of early voting.
Given that choice, a third of all voters (33%) preferred the longer time frame, another third (34%) wanted the two-week limit, and the final third were either undecided (11%) or thought the decision should be left to the states (21%). On that question, most (54%) Republicans supported the two-week limit while a plurality (45%) of Democrats favored the longer time frame. Independents were evenly divided.
However, it should also be noted that three provisions of HR1 are extremely unpopular.
First, HR1 would effectively ban states from requiring photo ID before voting. Among the general public, the consensus is exactly the opposite. Given a choice, 70% of voters prefer requiring that all voters provide some form of photo ID before casting a ballot. Just 12% prefer to prohibit states from requiring such identification. Another 11% believe states should set their own rules.
On a partisan basis, support for requiring all voters to show photo ID comes from 84% of Republicans, 72% of independents and 57% of Democrats.
Second, HR1 would make it illegal for states to remove voters from voter registration lists within six months of an election. By a 59% to 17% margin, voters prefer to head in the opposite direction and require states to remove from the lists people who have died or moved.
Third, HR1 would require all states to accept any mail-in ballots for up to 10 days after Election Day. However, 74% of voters disagree and favor a provision requiring that all ballots be received by Election Day. Notably, that total includes 73% of those who voted by mail in the 2020 presidential election. Requiring all ballots to be received by Election Day is supported by 88% of Republicans, 69% of Democrats and 66% of independents.
Americans are broadly united behind the concept of election law reform. While 55% believe that voting in person is better than voting by mail, there is little desire to prevent people from casting their ballots through the postal service. People want a system that makes voting easy but also provides confidence in the outcome. Steps that would move the nation in that direction include requiring photo ID before voting, cleaning voter rolls in advance of each election, and making sure that all ballots are received by Election Day.
Scott Rasmussen is an American political analyst and digital media entrepreneur. He is the author of “The Sun Is Still Rising: Politics Has Failed But America Will Not.”