Nearly half of NC Trump supporters lack trust in elections, WRAL News poll finds

Nearly one in every three North Carolina voters has little to no faith in the accuracy of election results, according to a new WRAL News poll released Tuesday that shows deep divides along partisan lines and between age groups.

Of the 598 likely voters polled, 29% say they lack faith in the election system, compared with 34% who say they have “full confidence” and another 34% who report “some confidence” that votes will be counted accurately.

Mistrust is highest, by far, among supporters of former President Donald Trump, the expected Republican nominee for president, who has repeatedly blamed his 2020 loss to Democratic President Joe Biden on unproven claims of voter fraud that courts have rejected. Forty-four percent of likely Trump voters expressed doubt in elections. That’s despite the fact Trump won North Carolina in 2020 and other Republicans won the majority of statewide races that year and in 2022.

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Trump faces criminal charges in Georgia, based on a call he made to GOP elections officials there in the immediate aftermath of the election, asking them to “find” enough votes for him to have won that key swing state.

The WRAL poll, conducted in partnership with SurveyUSA between March 3 and March 9, has a credibility interval of 4.9 percentage points. A credibility interval is similar to margin of error but takes into account more factors and is considered by some pollsters to be a more accurate measurement of statistical certainty.

Trump and Biden are heading for a rematch in this year’s elections, and the poll shows Trump’s supporters are primed to reject the results again if he loses. Among Trump supporters, 13% said they had no confidence in elections, according to the poll. Biden supporters were three times less likely to express doubts, including just 1% who said they had no confidence.

Elections officials conduct audits after every election in North Carolina, which typically find little to no voter fraud. Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections, said the state posts all those reports — as well as plenty of raw data — on its website so voters who have questions or concerns can do their own research. She stressed that elections are run by bureaucrats, not politicians, and expressed a desire that political campaigns stop making election administration a political issue.

“Elections have become part of the campaign rhetoric,” Brinson Bell said. “We aren’t political. We are the administrators of elections. We are election professionals, and so we are going to follow the law.”

In an interview Tuesday she rattled off a series of efforts the state undertakes to safeguard elections and to educate and reassure voters, including:

  • Using paper ballots and machines without internet connections.
  • Pre-election testing of voting machines to make sure they’re properly calibrated.
  • Post-election audits.
  • Random sampling of ballots, counted by hand to verify the machine count.
  • Poll workers and poll observers at precincts, pulled from volunteers in both parties.

In the past, audits from the state have found that even if all allegations of voter fraud turned out to be true, it would affect only a fraction of a percent of the vote. And because allegations come from voters on both sides of the aisle, and in such small numbers, the audits have found, that no election results would’ve been affected even if all allegations of voter fraud had been found to be true.

“We have an investigative unit here at the state board of elections, and we have for years,” Brinson Bell said. “And those folks investigate allegations of voter fraud. And ultimately, while there’s sometimes misunderstandings, or clerical error errors, the actual cases of voter fraud are very minimal.”

There also appeared to be a connection in the polling between a voter’s age and how much they trusted elections. Among voters 65 and older, 79% expressed some or full confidence that votes would be counted accurately. That dipped to 73% among voters age 50-64, 62% among voters age 35 to 49, and 59% among voters age 18 to 34.

Brinson Bell blames social media, among other factors.

“What people are subjected to is a lot of inaccurate information that makes its way onto social media, in particular,” she said Tuesday. “And we really encourage folks to go to trusted sources of information. Go to the folks who conduct elections and carry out election laws written in North Carolina.”

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