Poll finds majority of Americans want better ballot access, as GOP pushes voter-suppression bills

(AP)

Most Americans want to prioritise efforts to strengthen access to the polls for every eligible voter, while an overwhelming majority of Republicans are more concerned about “making sure that no one votes who is not eligible to vote”, according to nationwide polling from NBC News.

The survey found that 58 per cent of Americans are more concerned about “making sure that everyone who wants to vote can do so”, including 87 per cent of Democrats and 65 per cent of independent voters.

But 38 per cent of Americans – including 77 per cent of Republicans – are more concerned about preventing people from voting, the poll found.

The wide partisan disparity reflects a growing push among Republican lawmakers in nearly every state – and widespread opposition among Democrats – to restrict ballot access during elections, including rolling back early voting periods and cutting vote-by-mail options, imposing restrictive voter ID laws, and handing over more authority to Republican-controlled legislatures during the election results process.

Those proposals will disproportionately target Black and Latino voters, civil rights groups have argued. The NBC News poll found that Black and Latino voters – 82 per cent and 73 per cent, respectively – are more concerned about ensuring voters have access to ballots than efforts to combat ineligible voters.

Republican lawmakers – emboldened by Donald Trump’s persistent lies of election fraud in the 2020 election, which he falsely insists was “stolen” from him and his supporters – have defended their bills on the basis of protecting “election integrity” and “voter confidence” despite repeated assurance from state and federal officials from both parties that there is no evidence of widespread fraud or vote manipulation in the 2020 election.

Despite that argument, a majority of Americans – 74 per cent – are confident in their state’s ability to administer a free and fair election.

That includes 85 per cent of Democrats, 81 per cent of independents, and 59 per cent of Republicans.

In states that voted for Joe Biden, only 39 per cent of Republicans are confident in election results, and 60 per cent are not confident.

More than 300 bills were filed in 2021 legislative sessions

The poll was conducted by Hart Research and Public Opinion Strategies from 17 April to 20 April, with a margin of error within 3.1 percentage points.

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