Despite countless investigations, judicial hearings and forensic audits rejecting claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, just one in three Americans believe the 2022 midterms will be largely free of fraud, according to a new national poll from LX News and YouGov.
Forty-nine percent of all Americans — including a majority of Republicans and half of all self-described independents — believe there will either be "a lot" or "some" fraud this fall, an indication of how pervasive disinformation about the 2020 election has spread and how much trust in democracy has eroded in just two years.
The poll also found:
- Democrats have more confidence in the integrity of the election than independents or Republicans, but one in three still believe there will be "a lot" or "some" fraud in the midterms
- Fifty percent of Democrats responded they believe there will be "barely any" or "none"
- Seniors were the most likely generation to trust the integrity of the vote. Concerns about fraud were particularly common among middle-aged Americans
- A quarter of all Americans who believe there will be fraud say it will be significant enough this fall to change the balance of power in Congress. That included 36% of Republicans and 26% of Democrats
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Even as scrutiny of election systems has grown in recent years, arrests for fraud have not. A study published by a Columbia University professor found most accusations of fraud were "false claims by the loser of a close race, mischief and administrative, or voter error."
The conservative Heritage Foundation, which tracks election fraud cases, found only about 1,000 instances of fraud in last 25 years — a rate that equates to less than one case per million votes cast during that time.
What's Driving Voter Fraud Concerns
Political news from the U.S. Capitol, White House and around Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia
Americans' concerns regarding voter fraud aren’t limited to a single theory on cheating.
The LX News/YouGov poll found similar levels of concern among Americans for the following activities:
- 58% — people voting more than once
- 55% — people lying about their citizenship
- 54% — people using fake names
- 51% — people casting ballots for family members
- 50% — people voting in a place they do not live
While election officials acknowledge it’s impossible to catch every attempt to cheat, instances are exceedingly rare, thanks to numerous systems designed to catch anomalies. The federal Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency described the 2020 election as America’s safest and most secure ever.
Many local election officials welcome members of the public to learn about the voting process in person.
"The more people get involved in their own local elections, the more they'll see that the election process is secure," said former U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), now a member of the National Council on Election Integrity. "When you hear people talk about these [election fraud] conspiracy theories, it's often because people aren't familiar with how elections work."
Restored Trust in Mail-In Ballots
Many Democrats say they're returning to pre-pandemic habits of voting in person, shrinking the discrepancy between how the two parties cast ballots.
The LX News/YouGov poll found one in three Americans — including 39% of Democrats and 24% of Republicans — plan to vote by mail this fall.
Officials in some conservative states, such as Utah, have fully embraced mail-in voting, touting its popularity.
And in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump have both cast ballots by mail, there’s anecdotal evidence that Republicans have all but eliminated Democrats’ advantage on mail-in ballots:
- Three weeks ahead of this year's Election Day, 41% of mail ballots received have come from Democratic voters, compared to 38% from Republicans
- Three weeks prior to Election Day in 2020, Democrats held a 20-point advantage on ballots returned
Campaign consultants tell LX News that getting party loyalists to cast ballots by mail — or vote in person early — can benefit campaigns by allowing them to focus their "get out the vote" efforts on more tepid supporters.
Correction (Oct. 20, 2022, 7:05 a.m.): An earlier version of this story reported that a quarter of all Americans say fraud will be significant enough to change the balance of power in Congress. The actual figure is 20%.
Noah Pransky is LX News' national political editor, covering Washington and state politics, with a special focus on young voters. His political and investigative work has been honored with national Murrow, Polk, duPont and Cronkite awards, and you can contact him confidentially at email@example.com, or on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.