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Poll: More Americans Are Concerned About Voting Access Than Fraud Prevention

A voter marks his ballot at a polling place on Nov. 3 in Richland, Iowa. A new poll finds ensuring access to voting is more important than tamping down on voter fraud for most Americans.
A voter marks his ballot at a polling place on Nov. 3 in Richland, Iowa. A new poll finds ensuring access to voting is more important than tamping down on voter fraud for most Americans.

A majority of Americans believe ensuring access to voting is more important than rooting out fraud, the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey finds.

At the same time, there was broad agreement that people should have to show identification when they go to the polls.

Two-thirds of Americans also believe democracy is "under threat" but likely for very different reasons.

"For Democrats, Jan. 6 undoubtedly looms large," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, referring to the violence and insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, "while, for Republicans, it's more likely about [former President Donald] Trump and his claims of a rigged election."

Voting access vs. fraud

By a 56% to 41% margin, survey respondents said making sure that everyone who wants to vote can do so is a bigger concern than making sure that no one who is ineligible votes.

But there were wide differences by political party and by race.

Among Democrats, almost 9 in 10 said access was more important, but almost three-quarters of Republicans said it was making sure no one votes who isn't eligible.

By race, a slim majority of whites said ensuring everyone who wants to vote can do so was most important, but almost two-thirds of nonwhites said so.

Photo ID is popular

Nearly 8 in 10 Americans said they believe voters should be required to show government-issued photo identification whenever they vote.

Majorities of Democrats, Republicans, independents, whites and nonwhites all said so. Democrats were far lower, though, with 57% believing a photo ID should be required.

Biden holding steady

President Biden gets a 50% job approval rating, largely unchanged from last month. There is a sharp partisan divide with 9 in 10 Democrats approving, and more than 8 in 10 Republicans disapproving.

Biden continues to get his highest ratings when it comes to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and his economic approval is holding steady. But Americans have less confidence in his handling of foreign policy, especially immigration. His approval on immigration ticked up slightly from March when it was last measured in the poll.

By a 50% to 43% margin, respondents said Biden had strengthened America's role on the world stage.

Americans are split about whether the country is headed in the right direction or not — 49% said it wasn't, 47% said it was. It's an improvement, however, from right after the Jan. 6 insurrection when three-quarters said the country was on the wrong track.

The tone has gotten worse in Washington since Biden was elected, 41% said, but that's better than the two-thirds who said so consistently during the Trump years.


Methodology: The poll of 1,115 U.S. adults was conducted using live telephone interviewers from June 22-29. Survey questions were available in English or Spanish. The full sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points, with larger margins of error for smaller group subsets.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.