Voting Access and the American Right

This snapshot on Voting Access is part of Citizen’s “American Right Democracy Roadmap”. Read the full Voting Access Snapshot here.

Majority Believe the Big Lie and Four-in-Five Distrust Electoral Process 

A majority endorse former President Trump’s “big lie” about the 2020 election and barely one-in-four acknowledges Joe Biden’s victory.

  • A plurality (37%) say they are “very certain” and 12% are “somewhat certain” that Trump won, while about one-in-four say Trump won with low certainty or are not sure (24%), or acknowledge Biden’s victory (26%).

Similarly, an overwhelming majority (80%) distrust the electoral process, agreeing that “It is hard to trust the results of elections when so many people will vote for anyone who offers a handout.” A plurality (41%) strongly agrees while only 9% strongly disagrees.

Views on Voter Access Policies Vary, but Opportunities Exist

While the Right is generally opposed to voting access expansion, there’s substantial  support for several voting access expansion proposals. In addition, there is strong support for extending voting hours (61% support). Opposition is likeliest for expanding vote-by-mail (65% oppose), despite Republicans being more supportive in past years

Specifically, about two-in-five support providing pre-paid postage (39% support; 50% oppose), online registration (39% support; 47% oppose), and extending early voting periods (37% support, 51% oppose).

The Right overwhelmingly supports campaign finance reform and is also supportive, though less so, of non-partisan redistricting reform. 

  • Like Americans overall, the Right is overwhelmingly supportive (74%) of regulations to limit the influence of money in politics
  • On the other hand, support is extremely limited (17%) for expanding public financing of political campaigns. Further research is needed to identify campaign finance reforms that are more appealing to this audience.
  • Finally, the Right is more divided on non-partisan redistricting. More support (35%) than oppose (26%), but a plurality is undecided (39%).

Most on the Right oppose eliminating early voting entirely—although they would limit it to the two weeks before Election Day. Vote-by-mail restrictions, on the other hand, attract consistently high support, particularly restrictions on when mail-in ballots must be received or postmarked.

No Advantage of Framing Voting Access through a Non-Partisan Lens 

Randomized message tests show that across 15 tested voting-related policies, support levels are the same whether they are framed through a partisan or nonpartisan lens. These results hold even among those with high levels of bias against Democrats and those with low political knowledge. 

This does not mean that right-of-center voters cannot be persuaded to support voting access expansions or oppose restrictions, but it does mean that non-partisan frames are unlikely to be more successful.

Racial and other Biases Predict Support for Voting Access Restrictions

Those on the right who are most biased against perceived outgroups—Democrats, urban Americans, and (particularly) people of color—are most likely to support voting access restrictions. However, these biases are less predictive of opposition to policies increasing voting access. Authoritarian attitudes are also highly predictive of support for voting access restrictions. 

In sum, we find evidence that many on the Right support making it harder for other Americans to vote—Democrats, urban voters, and voters of color—likely specifically because of these identities. This suggests two key conclusions:

  • It may be easier to persuade those on the Right to support policies expanding voting access than to oppose policies restricting access.

Those on the Right with anti-authoritarian and egalitarian racial attitudes are key persuasion and mobilization audiences for pro-democracy efforts.

 

Moderates Most Likely to Support Voting Access, Oppose Restrictions

Among right-of-center Americans, self-identified moderates are more likely to support voting access expansions and to oppose voting access restrictions compared to self-identified conservatives.

  • Moderate support may also remain strong even as policy debates become more polarized by partisanship.

  • Predicted support for voting access expansion by moderates stays stable or increases at higher levels of political knowledge, while support generally declines among conservatives at higher levels of political knowledge. 
  • Similarly, we find that support for voting access restrictions remains stable or decreases among moderates as political knowledge increases while support increases among conservatives.

Key Takeaways

In general, right-of-center Americans do not currently trust American’s democratic processes. A majority of those surveyed (54%) endorse the “big lie,” while an overwhelming majority (80%) say they distrust the results of elections. What’s more, we find evidence that many on the Right oppose reforms that would make voting more accessible for some Americans. 

However, there are clear opportunities to build support for pro-democracy measures on the Right. Most of those on the Right strongly support campaign finance reform and extended voting hours, and about two-in-five support providing pre-paid postage on mail-in ballots, online voter registration, and extending the early voting period. Support for measures like these — and opposition to more restrictive measures — are higher among self-identified moderates.

Moving forward, findings from this data collection will inform the development of proprietary voter and audience models to support persuasion and mobilization efforts aimed at expanding voting access. Citizen Data is already identifying right-of-center voters nationwide who are likely to hold anti-authoritarian views.  Identifying those on the Right who are anti-authoritarian and more open to democracy reform will serve as a critical tool in assembling electoral coalitions to expand voting access.