President Donald Trump, along with many like-minded conservatives, believe that rampant voter fraud is widespread in America. According to them, people not legally able to vote are actually voting and influencing elections unfairly.
On the other side, most Democrats believe that laws that were enacted to combat voter fraud have the effect of adding barriers to voting. They also believe that these laws disproportionately affect people who tend to vote Democratic.
And now there is a growing body of evidence that voter suppression is very real but voter fraud is almost nonexistent. Still, Republicans insist that voter fraud is rampant and voter suppression is a left-wing liberal fantasy.
(The Washington Post did an analysis and found that there is no evidence of rampant voter fraud.)
This week the Pew Research Center released a survey looking at how Americans see these issues.
Pew found that voter suppression is considered a major problem by many more Americans than is voter fraud. The number of people saying that fraud or suppression were a problem increased as the number of incidents increased.
Democrats are more likely than Republicans to consider suppression a major problem at every level that it occurs. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to see fraud as a problem.
In fact there are well-documented examples of many thousands of people having their votes suppressed because of laws that make voting more cumbersome. Almost 10,000 people in Wisconsin were blocked from voting in 2016 because they lacked proper identification. A study released in 2014 found tens of thousands fewer voters in Kansas and Tennessee in the wake of new voter ID laws.
These laws restricting voting are generally imposed by Republican legislators who argue that they’re necessary to combat voter fraud.
Most Republicans think that even one illegally cast ballot is a major problem but only a quarter of Democrats agree with this.
Most Republicans also believe that obstructing hundreds of legal votes is not a major problem.
According to Pew:
“The most telling partisan divisions are on how easy voting should be in the United States. Overall, two-thirds of the public (67%) says “everything possible should be done to make it easy for every citizen to vote,” while only about a third (32%) say citizens “should have to prove they want to vote” by registering in advance.”
“More than eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (84%) say “everything possible should be done to make it easy for every citizen to vote.” By contrast, only about half of Republicans (48%) say this. A similar share of Republicans (51%) think people should have to prove they want to vote by registering ahead of time.”
“These differences also are reflected in how Republicans and Democrats view proposals for changing the way people register to vote and cast ballots. Nearly eight-in-ten Democrats favor allowing people to register to vote on Election Day at the polls and automatically registering all eligible citizens to vote (78% each). Among Republicans, only about half favor each of these proposals (49% each).”
In summary, there is a major split between the two parties on the topic of access to the right to vote. This is one of the most important issues in a democracy. Democrats generally believe voting should be easier and all citizens should be registered automatically and encouraged to vote. Republicans on the other hand believe there should be barriers to voting and it should be harder to vote.
From this one fact we can easily draw a conclusion as to which party is more in favor of democracy, and which party believes that democracy should be limited.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.