Counting votes Accurately and Fairly

By: Karlyn Bowman, American Enterprise institute

After the 2000 election fiasco, the Pew Research Center began asking voters after each election whether their vote was counted accurately. They also asked whether people were confident that the votes across the country were counted accurately. After each presidential election, around 90 percent of all voters said they were confident that their vote was counted accurately, and around 80 percent felt that way about votes across the country.

This year, there are more concerns about whether the November 2020 election will be conducted fairly and accurately, with Democrats being more concerned than Republicans. In an April Pew Research Center poll, 59 percent nationally said the election would be fair and accurate — a belief held by 46 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of Republicans in the survey.

Impediments to voting of various sorts seem to be a minor problem for most Americans. After each election, the Census asks registered voters who didn’t vote why they didn’t do so. Four percent in 2016 reported registration problems and 2 percent inconvenient polling places, hours, or long lines. The top response, given by 15 percent, was that they didn’t like the candidates or thought their vote would not count.  Fourteen percent said they were too busy. Ten percent in a PRRI/Atlantic poll from September 2018 said that they or someone in their household couldn’t get off work to vote the last time they tried to vote. Other problems such as missing the registration deadline or being told that they didn’t have the right ID were mentioned by fewer than 10 percent of those surveyed.