AP-NORC poll: Majority plan to vote before Election Day

Sep 18, 2020, 10:12 AM
Utah less red...
In this Sept. 8, 2020 photo, voting booths are kept socially distant at the Chesterfield, N.H. polling site. (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)
(Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

DENVER (AP) — A majority of President Donald Trump’s supporters plan to cast their ballot on Election Day, while about half of Joe Biden’s backers plan to vote by mail, a sign of a growing partisan divide over how best to conduct elections in the United States.

Overall, 39% of registered voters say they will vote by mail, well above the 21% who say they normally do so, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The rise is skewed toward backers of the former vice president, 53% of whom plan to vote by mail. Fifty-seven percent of Mr. Trump’s supporters say they’ll vote in person on Nov. 3.

Fifty-four percent of voters say they will vote before polls open on Election Day. In 2016, roughly 42% of voters did so.

President Trump for months has denigrated mail voting, and Democrats have expressed concern about postal delays that could keep such ballots from being counted. The poll finds ebbing enthusiasm for mail voting: Only 28% of Americans say they would favor their state holding elections exclusively by mail, down from the 40% who said so in April as the coronavirus pandemic was first spreading in the U.S. and before Pres. Trump launched his anti-mail campaign.

RELATED: BYU study sees no advantage for either party in mail-in voting

Support for states allowing voters to cast an absentee ballot without requiring a reason is higher, but also down since April, from 56% to 47%.

Sherry Santiago, 55, of Palm Bay, Florida, is disabled and cannot drive. The Democrat said she almost lost her chance to vote in 2016 because she couldn’t get a lift to the polling place and she’s happy to sign up for a mail-in ballot this year.

“I don’t want to take a chance of missing it,” Santiago said of the election. “I have total confidence in voting by mail. I don’t worry there will be a problem.”

But Michelle Harman, 44, a Republican who works in the oil and gas industry in Artesia, New Mexico, plans to vote in person on Election Day.

“This year more than any other, there’s a lot of gray area about what could happen to your vote,” said Harman, who said she didn’t question voting by mail in 2016 when she was out of town.

Traditionally, voting by mail has not been a partisan issue. Until recently, Republicans were more likely to do so than Democrats, because older voters have tended to vote by mail more often than younger voters.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended earlier this year voting by mail as an alternative to face-to-face interactions at polling places, which could pose a risk of coronavirus infection. States have scrambled to adjust to an expected surge in advance voting, with nearly three dozen changing their mail or absentee voting rules in response to the pandemic.

The president has since tried to fan skepticism of mail voting, baselessly claiming that its widespread use will lead to fraud. Mr. Trump warned that mail voting could lead to so many people voting that “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” He condemned on Thursday the plan in 10 states to proactively send mail-in ballots to registered voters, claiming without evidence it means the result of November’s election would never be accurately determined.

Studies of past elections have shown voter fraud to be exceedingly rare. In the five states that regularly send ballots to all voters, there have been no major cases of fraud or difficulty counting the votes.

The poll found that 33% of Democrats, but just 12% of Republicans, favor mail-only elections. That’s a decline across the board from April, when 47% of Democrats and 29% of Republicans backed the idea. Seventy-two percent of Democrats, but just 25% of Republicans, favor no-excuse absentee voting.

RELATED: Utah passes election bill requiring in-person voting options

In swing states like Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, Democrats have far outpaced Republicans in requesting mail-in ballots so far this year.

John Mohr, 58, who works at a Dollar General store in Wilmington, North Carolina, asked for a mail-in ballot, but he plans to drop it off at his local elections office. He’s seen videos on Facebook saying — falsely — that mail-in ballots are labeled by party, tipping off postal workers who could throw them out before they reach the elections office.

“I don’t trust the postal service and I sure don’t trust Democrats,” Mohr said. Mr. Trump in North Carolina this month called for his supporters to vote twice — once by mail and once on Election Day — to ensure their vote is counted, which would be illegal. The president now urges supporters voting by mail to check at their polling place whether their ballot was received, but Mohr said he doesn’t want to deal with social distancing rules.

“I don’t want to stand there with 50 different rules,” Mohr said.

The poll shows only 34% of Americans have great confidence in the U.S. Postal Service, following a summer of controversy over slowed service resulting from cuts made by Pres. Trump’s appointee. Still, 49% say they have some confidence.

Democrats suspect the cuts are an effort to sabotage mail voting, and Mr. Trump himself said he’d be happy if the post office got less money to stop Democratic efforts to expand that method of voting.

Robert Schott, a Republican, plans to vote in person because his polling place is 500 yards from his home in Cranford, New Jersey, and is rarely crowded. “It’s easier than going to the post office,” said Schott, 62.

Schott, who dislikes Pres. Trump and does not know who he will vote for, spoke as he looked at the ballot that just arrived by mail. Though Mr. Trump has criticized that practice, Schott sees nothing wrong with it. Nor does he distrust the postal service.

“If they can’t handle 50 million ballots but they can handle 2 billion Christmas cards, c’mon,” Schott said.

Christopher Roquemore, 47, a Democrat in Montgomery, Alabama, will vote early in person because he’s volunteering as a poll worker on Election Day.

“I figure as long as I wear a mask and I wash my hands and do everything I’m supposed to do, it’ll be as safe as going into a grocery store,” he said.
But his parents, who live across the street, will be voting by mail.

Fingerhut reported from Washington.

The AP-NORC poll of 1,108 adults was conducted Sept. 11-14 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points.
AP-NORC Center

Today’s Top Stories

United States

President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference on the final day of the NATO summit in Madrid, ...

Biden says transatlantic alliance has adapted to new threats

Biden's comments came at a press conference in Madrid at the conclusion of the annual meeting of NATO leaders and after he attended a summit with the Group of Seven advanced democratic economies in the Bavarian Alps.
14 hours ago
A Rite Aid logo is displayed on its store...

Amazon, Rite Aid cap purchase of emergency contraceptives

Retailers limiting purchases is standard practice that helps retailers prevent stockpiling and reselling at higher prices.
14 hours ago
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul stands with Lieutenant governor Antonio Delgado during their primary ele...
STEVE PEOPLES AP National Politics Writer

Takeaways from first primaries since Roe v. Wade overturned

The abortion debate consumed the nation this week, but there was no race where it mattered more than Colorado's Republican primary for the U.S. Senate, where businessman Joe O'Dea became one of the only abortion-rights-supporting Republicans in the nation to win a statewide primary this year.
2 days ago
Freshly pressed vinyl records are produced in a stamper at the United Record Pressing facility Thur...
DAVID SHARP Associated Press

Manufacturers struggle to keep pace with vinyl record demand

The Recording Industry Association of America says record album sales grew 61% last year — and reached $1 billion for the first time since the 1980s.
4 days ago
U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) speaks during the fifth of eight planned public hearings ...
Annie Grayer, CNN

January 6 committee unexpectedly adds new hearing for Tuesday

The announcement came as a surprise to many as the committee had said it was not going to resume its hearings until mid-July.
4 days ago
Bodycam footage from the Moab Police Department that shows them talking with Brian Laundrie is seen...
Jamiel Lynch and Chenelle Woody, CNN

Lawyer releases pages from Brian Laundrie’s notebook in which he admits to killing Gabby Petito

Eight pages of Brian Laundrie's notebook were released Friday by the Laundrie family attorney. The notebook was found near Brian Laundrie's remains.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
Follow @ikeyospe...

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
Follow @ikeyospe...

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
AP-NORC poll: Majority plan to vote before Election Day