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Majority of Americans support voting reforms

April 29, 2009

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Many state governments are considering implementation of election reforms to increase voter turnout and reduce fraud, but election officials are concerned about potential negative effects. A recent survey conducted by a University of Missouri professor reveals that the U.S. public supports several voting reforms, including early voting and photo identification requirements.

"As more states consider adopting election reforms, it's important to evaluate the public's opinion," said David Konisky, policy research scholar at the MU Institute of Public Policy. "People want to see more voter participation, but not at the expense of the integrity of the election process. This is challenging, because many reforms that are thought to make voting easier also are perceived to increase the risk of voter fraud."

Konisky, assistant professor in the Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs at MU, surveyed Americans about their opinion of four voter reforms: early voting, photo ID requirements, vote by mail (VBM) and election day registration (EDR).

Americans expressed strong approval for early voting and photo identification requirements, but less approval for VBM and EDR. Almost half of those surveyed believe that VBM and EDR will increase fraud. People gave the highest approval rating for photo ID requirements, which currently are only utilized in a few states.

"We found an important commonality in opinions of all four reforms - a majority of the public does not believe that any of them will advantage one party more than the others," Konisky said. "This is interesting because the debates about election reforms are incredibly politicized. Election officials and political party members, not surprisingly, worry about the partisan effects of voting reforms, but the public doesn't seem to be as concerned."
The survey was completed as part of the 2008 Cooperative Congressional Election Survey, a national survey of 32,800 respondents conducted through the collaboration of several universities. The survey was administered in the fall of 2008.

More information about the survey can be found by visiting:

University of Missouri-Columbia

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