New Study Reveals 66% of Conservatives and 46% of Independent Voters Lack Confidence in Elections

New York, New York Today, the Ad Council Research Institute (ACRI) and the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) released findings from a new study that revealed a significant knowledge gap, as well as ongoing fears and concerns about the fairness and accuracy of the U.S. election process among many conservative-leaning and independent voters. The new study, (Dis)Trust in Elections: Rebuilding Voter Trust & Confidence in the U.S. Election Process, offers organizations, government entities, election boards, and election officials key insights into the ideal target audience for election-confidence building efforts.

“Especially as we head into a new election cycle, the need to instill trust in the process at all levels among American voters is paramount,” said Derrick Feldmann, lead researcher and managing director of ACRI and Ad Council Edge. “While our findings show distrust is present, there is hope. Making this information available will empower organizations in communities across the country to change the tide of voter doubt for the upcoming election cycle and those in the future.”

“American voters should have the utmost confidence that when they cast their ballots on Election Day, their vote will count,” said Sandhya Bathija, vice president of communications for CLC. “Clearly, the research indicates there are some gaps that must be addressed. But there are also reasons to be optimistic—that by drawing attention to the checks and balances within our electoral process, we can help increase knowledge and change attitudes and behaviors among this unique demographic of voters.” 

Key findings from the study include:

  • The ideal target audience for confidence-building efforts is conservative-leaning and independent voters.
    • Only about a third (31%) of conservative-leaning voters in the sample believe the 2020 presidential election was conducted fairly and accurately. Another third (35%) are not very confident, and 31% are not confident at all.
    • Half of independent voters (51%) were somewhat confident, with 28% not very and 18% not at all confident in the fairness and/or accuracy of the election.
  • Distrust is built by multiple factors and exacerbated by a lack of knowledge.
    • Top beliefs among conservative-leaning voters that contribute to distrust: voting fraud took place (74%), unregistered voters and/or undocumented immigrants voted (72%), encouraging multiple voting / making voting easier for some (58%).
    • Top beliefs among independent voters: Encouraging multiple voting/ making voting easier for some (50%), voting fraud took place (48%), unregistered voters and/or illegal immigrants voted (44%).
  • Despite ongoing distrust, people still support the country, believe in the US, and plan to continue exercising their right to vote in the future.
    • 43% of conservative-leaning voters and 39% of independents say this distrust has no impact on their likelihood to vote; 38% of conservatives and 32% of independents say it makes them much more likely to vote.

(Dis)Trust in Elections: Rebuilding Voter Trust & Confidence in the U.S. Election Process provide a deeper look into voter distrust in the U.S. election process. Download the report here.