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NPR/Marist Poll: 1 in 3 Americans Think a Foreign Country Will Change Midterm Votes
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=46512"><span class="small">Miles Parks, NPR</span></a>   
Tuesday, 18 September 2018 12:34

Parks writes: "About 1 out of every 3 American adults think a foreign country is likely to change vote tallies and results in the upcoming midterm elections, according to a new NPR/Marist poll released Monday."

Fears about how Russian hackers affected the 2016 election seem to have led a number of Americans to expect a foreign country to affect vote tallies in the midterms. There's no evidence such an attack has ever occurred previously. (photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images)
Fears about how Russian hackers affected the 2016 election seem to have led a number of Americans to expect a foreign country to affect vote tallies in the midterms. There's no evidence such an attack has ever occurred previously. (photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images)

NPR/Marist Poll: 1 in 3 Americans Think a Foreign Country Will Change Midterm Votes

By Miles Parks, NPR

18 September 18


bout 1 out of every 3 American adults think a foreign country is likely to change vote tallies and results in the upcoming midterm elections, according to a new NPR/Marist poll released Monday.

The finding comes even as there is no evidence Russia or any other country manipulated or tried to manipulate the vote count in 2016 or at any other point in American history.

The results give credence to what election officials have been worried about since at least the summer of 2016: that the intense focus by the media and the federal government on Russia's election interference efforts could be eroding voters' confidence in democratic institutions.

"There's been so much saturation of [Russia] discussions," said Neal Kelley, the registrar of voters for Orange County, Calif. "You can't help but have a segment of the population that's going to feel that way. But the bottom line is, there have been so many things done since 2016, to prepare for 2018."

The majority of Americans think that efforts to make this year's voting more secure are adequate, as 53 percent said they think the U.S. is either very prepared or prepared to keep the midterms safe and secure. Conversely, nearly 40 percent of Americans doubt that preparation.

The U.S. intelligence community agrees Russia used a number of different strategies to influence the minds of voters leading up to the 2016 election: posing as Americans to spread false and misleading information on social media, hacking into campaign and political party servers to release narrative-shifting emails, and targeting voting infrastructure like registration databases.

But there's been no indication any ballots were ever manipulated, as 31 percent of Americans think is likely to happen in November.

"It's a minority, but it's a large minority, and it's really troubling — because there's no evidence that's ever happened," said David Becker, the former director of the elections program at The Pew Charitable Trusts, and the founder of the Center for Election Innovation and Research.

The NPR/Marist poll was conducted Sept. 5-9. It surveyed 777 registered voters and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Voters polarized on election security

The intelligence community says the Kremlin's goals in 2016 were aimed at propping up then-candidate Donald Trump, but experts say they were probably broader as well: decreasing Americans' faith in democracy, as well as widening partisan divides and stoking polarization.

To that end, the NPR/Marist poll also doesn't paint a pretty picture, as Democrats and Republicans have vastly different opinions on the issue of election security.

Overall, while 53 percent of Americans think the U.S. is prepared for the upcoming midterms, those views are sharply colored by partisanship. 73 percent of Republicans think the country's elections are ready, compared to just 36 percent of Democrats.

Respondents were asked which was a bigger danger to keeping U.S. elections safe and secure: voter fraud and suppression or interference by a foreign country. More than 50 percent of Democrats said interference, compared to 11 percent of Republicans.

Conversely, nearly 80 percent of Republicans say voter fraud or voter suppression is the most at-risk part of elections.

That number is probably, at least partially, fueled by President Trump, who has repeatedly claimed without evidence that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election.

"In many places, like California, the same person votes many times — you've probably heard about that," Trump said, in April. "They always like to say 'oh that's a conspiracy theory' — not a conspiracy theory folks. Millions and millions of people."

Poll respondent and Republican Virginia Marler, a 65-year-old registered nurse in Smithville, Texas, said she isn't especially worried about voter fraud in the midterms but that she feels the number of illegal votes is "going to spike" for the 2020 presidential election, in an effort to oust Trump from office.

"America is allowing people [to the polls] who have no business to vote," Marler said. "I'm sorry — if you're here illegally, you're not an American citizen and I do believe it's supposed to be American citizens who vote in this country."

The number of "improper votes" each election, according to Becker, is actually in the "couple thousands" range (the equivalent of a thousandth of a percent of the voting population.) And in many cases, those who do vote improperly do so by accident.

Voters aligned both parties overwhelmingly think if there is fraud in the upcoming election, it is likely to help the other side.

"I worry that we're in a point in time right now where most can only view facts through partisan lenses, and this is not only one party that's doing this. This is both parties," Becker said. "We keep piling on reasons that tell [voters] 'your vote is not going to matter' and that your participation as a voter in our democracy isn't important.

"And no one is happier about that than President Putin sitting in Moscow."

Americans are also unsatisfied with the work social media companies have done in the wake of 2016, and the flood of misinformation that was discovered to have come from Russia.

Three quarters of American adults feel that both Facebook (62 percent) and Twitter (57 percent) have done either not very much or nothing at all to make sure there is no interference from a foreign country in this year's elections.

How Americans vote

A majority of Americans agree with cybersecurity experts, that voting using paper ballots makes elections less vulnerable to fraud or interference.

There wasn't a noticeable partisan split on this issue, with 62 percent of Democrats saying paper ballots make elections more safe, and 65 percent of Republicans saying the same.

Conversely, a majority of Americans say electronic voting machines and voting via the internet (some states allow limited casting of absentee ballots online, mostly for military and overseas voters) make elections less safe.

Still, it seems likely that voters in five states will vote in November exclusively on electronic ballot machines that don't provide a paper trail. Congress allocated $380 million earlier this year for states to bolster their election security, but many experts do not believe it is not nearly enough money.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine listed replacing electronic voting machines with paper-based systems by 2020 as its first recommendation in a report on the future of voting the organization released last month.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 September 2018 13:17


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For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

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It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

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+1 # indian weaving 2018-09-18 13:41
Anyone out there needing more proof that the USA is full of ignorant idiots, all of whom buy the MSM lies 100%? No wonder this nation is over ripe for civil war. It (we) deserve annihilation, if only for our mass stupidity and gullibility.
+3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-18 15:24
This shows the power of massive propaganda. The mainstream media has been pounding into the heads of Americans that Russia interfered with the 2016 election and now 1/3 of Americans believe. I guess we should be quite happy that 2/3 don't believe this NYT, Wapo, FBI, CIA, Brennan, Clapper, Comey, etc. dog shit.

So good for Americans. 2/3 of them still have a functioning brain.

Now what if the mass media did the same propaganda campaign about republican rigging of elections, voter suppression, gerrymandering, and all the rest? Or what if they publicized the influence of Israel on US elections. We know. It would never happen.
+1 # Farafalla 2018-09-18 22:27
In another post you said "There WAS a criminal cabal at the CIA/FBI/DOJ/NSA to interfere in the 2016 election and rig it on behalf of Hillary. As in the other covert ops Pierces refers to, these idiots screwed up, so they converted the operation into a coup against Trump."
So not reason to give you thumbs up here.
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-19 18:44
Russiagate is the most public product of this cabal in the CIA et al. And the good news is that 2/3 of Americans don't believe it. There is hope.

Covert ops always create a mess. I mentioned in a post that my uncle was CIA. He spent most of his time in SE Asia -- Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and the rest. He was the CIA's specialist in SE Asian languages. He was also a killer. He was there from 1955 to the 1980s. He was in Congo when Lumumba was murdered. Look at al these countries. They are all a mess. The crimes committed by CIA make the WW II holocaust look like child's play. They always screw up everything.

I hope 2/3 of Americans know what the CIA really is.
0 # DudeistPriest 2018-09-18 21:09
Fine, just remember that, by definition, half of Americans have below average intelligence. I want an IQ test with the poll.
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-20 07:02
DP -- you are obviously not from Lake Woebegone where "the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average."

Look on the bright side, half the people are above average in intelligence.

It would be quite easy to demonstrate that the 1/3 of Americans who believe the Russiagate baloney are nearly all below average in intelligence. This is a definintional issue. They are gullible and lack independence of thought. That's the definition of below average intelligence.

It is all now very clear.
+3 # grandlakeguy 2018-09-18 21:26
What an amazing opportunity for the spineless, clueless, worthless, Democratic party leadership to seize upon this study, blame the Russians, and DEMAND hand counted paper ballots in November.

We all know it is the Republicans who have been stealing our elections since 2000 but the Dems consistently refuse to talk about the disgrace that we jokingly call elections.

If we ever have a real election in this country it will be the end of the odious Republican party. Their only path to victory is to cheat.
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-20 07:15
GLG -- yes, a missed golden opportunity. Trump won a minority of votes and yet he is president. Republicans in congress got fewer votes than democrats and yet they control congress. The system is rigged in so many ways. The democrats should have raised all these issues following 2016. But instead they went down the Russiagate rabbit hole following right behind their new Messiah Robert Mueller.

"As of October 2017, Gallup polling found that 31% of Americans identified as Democrat, 24% identified as Republican, and 42% as Independent."

And with 24% of voters, republicans control government at all levels. Something is wrong in this picture. What's wrong with democrats --

One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small

And the ones that mother gives you, don't do anything at all

Go ask Mueller, when he's ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you're going to fall

Tell 'em a hookah-smoking Rosenstein has given you the call

And call Mueller, when he was just small

When the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go

And you've just had some kind of mushroom, and your mind is moving low

Go ask Mueller, I think he'll know

When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead

And the white knight is talking backwards
And the red queen's off with her head

Remember what the WashPo said
Feed your head,
feed your head
feed your head.
+2 # janie1893 2018-09-19 00:39
No foreign country needs to do anything but sit back and wait. America is doing a superb job of
coming apart at the seams without interference from anyone.
+2 # dotlady 2018-09-19 08:19
The interference in our elections is coming from a foreign power - the Republican Party. They have cut the voting rolls, gerrymandered districts, and flipped voting machines, and will do anything to win even if it means destroying all the good possibilities in our flawed system.
+1 # lfeuille 2018-09-19 18:18
We really need a press corps that's willing to challenge the CIA's version of events. The problem is not that foreigners will change the results, it's that Republicans will if their voter suppression before the vote doesn't do the job.