A new poll suggests that more Americans now favor both voter ID laws and early voting. Voting laws have been a divisive issue for many years, but have become a central debate in the 2016 presidential election.
An August 22 survey by Gallup yielded data finding that nearly eighty percent of respondents were in favor of state laws requiring picture IDs at polling places, while only nineteen percent said they opposed them.
About the same number of respondents also expressed support for early voting as a means of improving voter turnout, with again roughly nineteen percent opposing early voting.
Another question asked concerning automatic voter registration yielded a sixty three percent favorable response, with about thirty four percent against the idea.
Gallup researchers did not stop with just collecting the data. They broke it down and determined that Republican respondents overwhelmingly supported mandatory photo ID’s, generally were in favor of early voting, and split almost evenly on the matter of automatic voter registration.
Democrats felt strongly about early voting and automatic registration, while only a slight majority supported photo IDs.
People identifying as Independent tended to follow the Republican trend.
The numbers do not really move too far when broken down by race, instead of political affiliation. Eighty one percent of whites responded favorably towards the ideas of photo IDs at polling stations, and early voting, while only about sixty percent favored automatic voter registration.
Nonwhites, in comparison, were slightly more lukewarm on the issues of photo IDs and early voting, with only seventy seven percent agreeing. They were, however, far more in favor of Automatic voter registration that their white counterparts.
Gallup found the biggest divide among partisan lines stems from the concern about voter fraud and voter suppression.
When asked about which is the greater threat, fifty two percent of Republicans were more concerned with voter fraud than voter suppression, with only twenty two percent being more concerned with voter suppression.
Only twenty six percent of Democratic respondents were more concerned with fraud than with denying eligible people the ability to vote. Forty percent of Democrats believe that voter suppression is a bigger problem.
Moving beyond the Gallup poll to recent studies of official data, the evidence may tend to support the beliefs of Democrats. States with the strictest voter laws designed to prevent voter fraud, have discovered in the last four years there have only been thirty eight successful prosecutions for fraud in Kansas, Ohio, Florida, Texas, and Arizona.
Further, North Carolina’s recent voter laws were struck down by the United States’ Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, deeming them to be restrictive and racially motivated. The court wrote in in its ruling “We cannot ignore the record evidence that, because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history.”
While voter laws have been a contentious issue since the beginning of the Civil Right Era, when African Americans struggled to gain access to polls across the south, concerns about voting rights have become pronounced as the 2016 election cycle has become one of the most polarizing in recent times.
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