78% of U.S. Voters Feel Confident Their Votes Were Counted Accurately in 2004 Elections
CHICAGO, Aug. 5, 2005 — Despite public debate over hanging chads, butterfly ballots, machine malfunctions and other alleged hazards of the voting booth, 78.2 percent of U.S. adults who voted in the 2004 elections were confident their votes had been counted accurately – 28.7 percent said they were extremely confident, 27.9 percent very confident and 21.7 percent simply confident- according to a survey commissioned by the American Bar Association and conducted by Harris Interactive®. Another 14.1 percent said they were “somewhat” confident.
That said, nearly half (46%) of all U.S. adults said their confidence in the electoral process when electronic machines are used would increase if voters could examine a paper printout of their votes before they are recorded. The ABA’s policy-making House of Delegates, meeting next week during the association’s 2005 Annual Meeting in Chicago, will be asked to support a resolution that calls for, among other election law reforms, paper printouts of each voter’s ballots to be available for the voter’s inspection before the vote is recorded.
“It is heartening that the voting public has so much trust in the electoral process,” said ABA President Robert J. Grey Jr. “Fair elections are the foundation of our representative system of government. As the nation increasingly relies on electronic voting, citizens need to believe their votes are counted. It is significant that even given a high level of confidence that their own votes were counted correctly, so many people say they would trust the process even more if voters could verify the accuracy of electronic machines with a paper printout.” Grey announced the survey results at a news conference this afternoon in Chicago.
A total of 46 percent of all survey respondents – those who did and did not vote in the 2004 elections – said their confidence in the electoral process would increase if paper printouts were available to voters who could then verify their votes were recorded accurately before the votes were officially recorded. A total of 25 percent said their confidence would increase a lot; 21.1 percent said it would increase a little. While 38.3 percent said there would be no change in their confidence level, 10.3 percent said their confidence would be reduced.
The election law reform proposal, filed in May for consideration next week, recommends that all election officials ensure the integrity of the election process through the adoption, use, and enforcement of guidelines that also include provisions on:
* Voter registration efforts by third parties
* Challenges to voter lists
* Early voting
* Adequate funding of the electoral process
* Minimizing delay experienced in the process of voting
The ABA’s House of Delegates will convene Monday and Tuesday. The suggested reforms appear in Election Administration Guidelines and Commentary available on the ABA Web site at www.abanet.org/leadership/2005/annual/summaryofrecommendations/102.doc .
The guidelines were developed by the ABA Standing Committee on Election Law and proposed to supplant Ballot Integrity Standards Applying to Election Officials adopted by the ABA in 1989 and Election Administration Guidelines adopted in 2001. The new proposals will not constitute association policy unless or until they are adopted by the House of Delegates.
Harris Interactive® conducted the telephone survey on behalf of the American Bar Association between July 22 and 27 among a nationwide cross section of 1,002 U.S. adults aged 18 and over, of whom 785 voted in the 2004 elections. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, income, education and region were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. In theory, with a probability sample of this size, one could say with 95 percent certainty that the overall results have a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percent of what they would be if the entire U.S. adult population had been polled with complete accuracy. Sampling error for the voter sample results is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law in a democratic society.