WASHINGTON, D.C. — This past week, two polls were released showing how voters in both parties view mail-in voting, a commonsense measure that has historically been supported by Republicans and Democrats alike. However, during the unprecedented surge in mail-in voting in 2020, former President Donald Trump began attacking mail-in voting as a tool of voter fraud, which other Republicans began to echo. The polls show how attacks on mail-in voting have influenced voters, with Republican voters overwhelmingly opposed to mail-in voting as well as other voting reforms.
For decades, mail-in voting was a bipartisan voting practice across many states. Arizona Republicans, for example, originally championed their state’s popular mail-in voting system in the 1990s and Utah, which is heavily Republican, conducts most of its elections via mail. But in the aftermath of 2020 — following Trump’s lead — Republican politicians began turning on mail-in voting. In Arizona, Republican candidates for governor and secretary of state both pledged to restrict mail-in voting and GOP lawmakers in Pennsylvania are trying to eliminate the state’s landmark mail-in voting law even though many of them originally voted for it just a few years ago.
While Trump’s rhetoric opposing mail-in voting has certainly been adopted by Republican elected officials, two recently released polls reveal that attitudes against mail-in voting have trickled down to voters as well.
The first poll, published earlier this week by the New York Times, found that 55% of Republican respondents view mail-in voting as a major threat to democracy, while 48% of independents and 72% of Democrats say it poses no threat at all. The second, published by Gallup on Oct. 14, found that only 27% of Republicans support sending mail-in ballots to all registered voters prior to an election — even though a strong majority of Americans overall support it, including 63% of independents and 88% of Democrats. The Gallup poll also found that 61% of Republicans support restricting drop boxes that allow voters to return their mail-in ballots without going to a post office. Republican voters have followed their leaders’ example when it comes to mail-in voting.
All across the country, Republicans — including the Republican National Committee, state Republican parties and conservative legal groups with ties to Trump — are turning to the legal system to attack mail-in voting. In Wisconsin, one lawsuit successfully banned drop boxes. In Pennsylvania, Republicans and their allies are attacking virtually every aspect of the mail-in voting process. In Delaware, a Republican lawsuit managed to overturn newly enacted mail-in voting laws. Even two years after the 2020 election, Republican attacks on mail-in voting continue to be a major theme in their efforts to undermine the right to vote.