Home>News Center>World

Poll: US voters skeptical of elections
Updated: 2004-10-26 20:37

Memories of Florida's contested 2000 presidential election and a growing number of pre-election lawsuits are making Americans skeptical about a voting process they once took for granted.

Six in 10 of those surveyed in an Associated Press poll say it's likely there will not be a clear winner in the presidential race by Nov. 3 — the day after the election. About half say they fear the results will be challenged in court, according to the poll conducted for the AP by Ipsos Public Affairs.

Both Democrats and Republicans worry about the possibility of an unresolved election — though Democrats express more worries. About seven in 10 Democratic voters, 69 percent, say they think it's likely there won't be a clear winner by Election Day, while almost six in 10 Republican voters, 56 percent, say they feel that way.

With both political parties putting thousands of lawyers on call for Election Day, a majority of both Democrats and Republicans — just over half of each — expect the election results will be challenged in court.

"I read the other day that there's going to be a perfect storm," Jack Martin, a businessman who lives near Salt Lake City, said of the growing number of lawsuits. "I think it's coming down to the courts. It worries me about our election system. I used to think every vote counts."

Both parties already have filed lawsuits over a variety of complaints — from how provisional ballots are counted to alleged fraud in voter registration. Judges in several states have issued disparate rulings on provisional ballots, which are required under law for voters who show up at the polls only to find their names are not on the voter rolls.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati is expected to hear arguments this week on the use of provisional ballots in Michigan. It is unclear whether the court will rule before the election.

A majority say they are confident the vote count in their own state will be accurate. Fewer than half of Democrats say they are "very confident" their state's vote count will be accurate, while three-fourths of Republicans feel that way.

Lori McKay, 29, a Republican from St. Louis, says she thinks election officials will get things right this time.

"After all the problems last time, I'm thinking they will do a better job," she said.

In the closing days of the campaign, the national parties are keeping especially close tabs on Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa and New Mexico, all presidential battleground states where a challenge to a close race might be lodged Nov. 3.

Florida in 2000 turned into a political and legal ground zero over a Bush-Gore recount. After 36 days, the U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) handed Bush a 537-vote victory in Florida and, thus, the presidency.

More than half in the poll, 54 percent, say they think the vote count in Florida was not fair and accurate, with Republicans overwhelmingly saying it was and Democrats overwhelmingly saying it was not. Independents say by a 2-to-1 margin that it was not fair.

Pamela Martin, a 52-year-old Democrat from Miami, says she was "not too confident" that 2004 will be any better in Florida than the last time around. Martin, who is black, says she heard plenty of stories about blacks who had trouble voting the last time.

Worries about politics and legal challenges far outweigh worries about terrorist attacks intended to disrupt the elections, the poll found.

Just under one-third of those polled say they expect terrorists will attempt to disrupt elections.

Elections officials in many states are taking steps to improve security at polling places but are looking for ways to heighten readiness without posting armed police.

Almost half in the poll say having armed police at the polls would make them more inclined to vote, while about one in six say it would make them less inclined. Minority voters were more likely than whites to say armed police would make them less inclined to vote.

The AP-Ipsos poll of 1,000 adults, including 856 registered voters and 670 likely voters, was taken Oct. 22-24 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample, slightly larger for subgroups like registered voters.

  Today's Top News     Top World News

Nine provinces may face winter blackouts



China, ASEAN agree to end tariffs



US arms sales to Taiwan opposed -- Hu



China trade to reach US$1.1 trillion in 2004



UN: 400 tons of Iraq explosives missing



Changsha bus blast injures over 40 people


  Karzai wins Afghan election, official says
  Powell urges North Korea to resume nuke talks
  Eight Indonesian villages hit by new birdflu outbreak
  U.S. says Falluja air strike kills Zarqawi ally
  Poll: US voters skeptical of elections
  Cuba moves to stop trade in US dollars
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
Bush cousins launch pro-Kerry website
Bush, Kerry spar over Iraq, security
Kerry leads Bush in paper endorsements
Clinton campaigns with Kerry today
Clinton helping Kerry turn out his voters
Karzai clinches majority in Afghan vote
Clinton seen helping Kerry turn out his voters
  News Talk  
  Are the Republicans exploiting the memory of 9/11?