Americans are flocking to vote early both by mail and in-person amid worries over vote counting, a poll by the Washington Post and the University of Maryland indicated Thursday. But different demographics have very different ideas about where the threat to democracy lies.
The poll indicated 60% of voters want to cast ballots before Nov. 3, up from 40% in 2016. But concerns are also rising about the reliability of mailed ballots, with only 30% of respondents saying they would be “very confident” their votes would be counted accurately by mail. In contrast, 70% were “very confident” that in-person ballots would be tallied accurately.
Democrats have raised concerns that mail-in voting would be delayed because of increased strain on the postal service due to COVID-19 and actions by the U.S. Postal Service, which has removed mail sorting machines. Additionally, Postmaster Louis DeJoy, a major Republican donor, imposed a series of cost-cutting measures related to overtime and delivery schedules that have resulted in delays. Democrats have accused DeJoy of purposefully sabotaging mail-in voting to help President Trump, as Democratic voters are more likely to use mailed ballots.
Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on the legitimacy of an election where he could lose to mailed ballots counted after Election Day.
Joseph Johnson, a 58-year-old acquisitions manager and Biden supporter, expressed concern over the changes.
“Mail will definitely be an issue, just because of what they’re doing with the post office. My personal mail has been delayed for days on end, and I’m sure everybody else’s mail is the same. And I think that’s purposeful,” he said.
While both sides of the political spectrum expressed uncertainty the election would remain free of tampering, they held very different views on what the source of that tampering might be.
Mike Bell, a 42-year-old radio station engineer and Trump supporter, said he fears mailed ballots would lead to vote fraud.
“That’s my main concern — mail-in ballots. I believe, like, they can be sent to deceased people. I’ve heard of people getting them in their cat’s name. People are getting double and triple votes. I don’t think that’s fair,” he said.
There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the U.S. although the issue has been a popular refrain from Trump and his allies.
There were also differences of opinion between races. Seventy-one percent of Black Americans said it’s harder for Blacks to vote than whites. Among white Americans, only 34% shared that opinion. Black voters were 13% more likely to say they plan to vote early.