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 As mid-term elections approach, voters may see an increase in police when they go to vote. (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


FILE - A Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. (AP P...
The Associated Press

Montana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

A Montana man will spend three years in federal prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S Capitol.
1 day ago
Debbie, left, and Chet Barnett place flowers at a memorial outside of the Chesapeake, Va., Walmart ...
The Associated Press

Walmart shooter left ‘death note,’ bought gun day of killing

According to authorities in Virginia, the Walmart shooter bought his gun just hours prior to killing six employees.
1 day ago
Dry lakebed...
Kira Hoffelmeyer

Lawsuit looms over tiny fish in drought-stricken West

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Conservationists have notified U.S. wildlife officials that they will sue over delayed decisions related to protections for two rare fish species that are threatened by groundwater pumping in the drought-stricken West. The Center for Biological Diversity sent a formal notice of intent to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service last week […]
3 days ago
Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting ...

Colorado gay club shooting suspect held without bail

The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub was ordered held without bail in an initial court appearance Wednesday.
3 days ago
Four Dead University of Idaho...

Coroner: Idaho students were stabbed to death in their beds

Four University of Idaho students who were found dead in a rental house Sunday were stabbed to death in their beds and likely were asleep.
8 days ago
FILE - In this photo provided by the National Park Service is the Abyss Pool hot spring in the sout...
The Associated Press

Foot found in Yellowstone hot pool ID’d as that of LA man

Yellowstone National Park officials say a foot found in July belongs to a 70-year-old man from California.
9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
AP-NORC poll: Majority plan to vote before Election Day