NPR/Marist Poll: 40 Percent Of Americans Think Elections Aren't Fair Republicans overwhelmingly believe elections are fair, but non-white voters, women and Democrats are much more skeptical. Nonwhite voters also experience longer lines than white voters.
NPR logo

NPR/Marist Poll: 40 Percent Of Americans Think Elections Aren't Fair

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/647421039/648646339" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
NPR/Marist Poll: 40 Percent Of Americans Think Elections Aren't Fair

NPR/Marist Poll: 40 Percent Of Americans Think Elections Aren't Fair

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/647421039/648646339" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A new poll from NPR News and Marist College asked Americans what they think of this country's democracy, and here's one thing respondents said. Almost 40 percent of Americans do not think elections in this country are fair. Miles Parks covers voting for NPR, and he's in our studios. Good morning.

MILES PARKS, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: What do people find unfair?

PARKS: So it's really interesting how divided this poll is when you look at any measurable demographic. The people who are finding the election system most unfair - you've got three key demographics. You've got nonwhite voters, you've got women, and you've got Democrats. Forty-six percent of nonwhite voters, 47 percent of women and 48 percent of Democrats think elections in this country are not fair.

INSKEEP: Let me stop you for a second. President Trump is the person who's been saying, the system is rigged, the system is rigged, who pretended without any evidence whatsoever that there were millions of illegal votes in the election in 2016, set up a commission which utterly failed to find any of that. But you're saying it's Democrats and people who - constituencies who would tend to vote a little more on the left that are skeptical right...

PARKS: Right.

INSKEEP: ...Now.

PARKS: We know that when you look at a poll like this, when you talk about voter confidence, that a lot of these numbers are painted by the most recent election and the results that we find there. You do see - in the Republican electorate, you see 91 percent of Republicans think elections are fair.

But then when you ask Republican voters, what are you most concerned about when it comes to elections, voter fraud is by far the majority as opposed to the other things that we asked about - voter suppression, specifically Russian interference. The Russian interference numbers - when you look at what Democrats are concerned about and what Republicans are concerned about, Republicans exponentially more concerned about voter fraud, probably driven by exactly what you're saying - President Trump's statements about millions of people voting...

INSKEEP: Oh.

PARKS: ...Illegally.

INSKEEP: ...Republicans are concerned, as their party has been for years, about voter fraud, the idea that extra people are voting illegally. Democrats, you said voter suppression, which is what? That's preventing people from voting?

PARKS: It - preventing people from voting, whether that's by gerrymandering or whether that's by people actually at polling places asking people not to vote. It's kind of a wide bucket, and a lot of these things kind of fit in there.

INSKEEP: And how many people or what kinds of people expressed concern about Russian interference in American elections?

PARKS: It's - definitely skews a lot more Democrat. You also have nonwhite voters a lot more concerned about that sort of thing than white voters.

INSKEEP: Most people did find the election system fair on the whole, right?

PARKS: That's definitely true. Though, again, it goes back to partisanship. When we talk about elections, the thing election officials want to do is make this a process of government. Just like a lot of other aspects of government, you want it to be successful for all of the people living in society.

INSKEEP: You want everybody to accept the results even if their side lost, sure.

PARKS: Exactly. So when you look at 91 percent of Republicans are satisfied, but then this huge chunk of the Democratic Party is not satisfied - and we're not talking about not satisfied with how the elections turned out. We're talking about something about this election isn't right. This isn't representative of what the people want is what they're saying, essentially, which is obviously really worrisome for the legitimacy of government.

INSKEEP: Although we should mention we are in a situation which, because of the electoral vote, because of redistricting in the House, because of the way senators are elected, you do have effectively a minority government. A minority of people elected the president, for example. But that's not exactly what Democrats are concerned about. They're concerned about people being prevented from voting at all.

PARKS: And specifically at the national level. What's really interesting here is you don't see this concern seeping into confidence numbers in local officials, who are actually the people running the government. A lot of it is focused on President Trump. His numbers for satisfaction with how he's dealing with secure elections track almost identically with his numbers for his approval ratings in this poll.

INSKEEP: So not so great. Miles, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

PARKS: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Miles Parks.

Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.