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UT/TT Poll: Texas Voters Feeling High Anxiety Over Election Security

Emily Albracht/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Voters in the party that has not lost a statewide election in Texas since 1994 are most likely to say that elections are fraught with criminality, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

The findings echo Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “rigged election” theme and rising apprehension over foreign or criminal hackers.

Republicans, who have won every statewide election in Texas for the past two decades, were more likely than independents and much more likely than Democrats to say that “people voting who are not eligible” will be an “extremely serious” or “somewhat serious” problem in this year’s elections.

Nine of 10 Republicans said ineligible voters voting would be a serious problem, 69 percent of independents said so and only 23 percent of Democrats agreed. Three-quarters of the Democrats rated the problem “not too serious” or “not serious at all.”

Among the Republican voters, 70 percent ranked the problem as “extremely serious.”

“Wow,” said Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll and a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin, after looking over the results. “To me, it’s an indication of how unhappy people are with the system, how deeply they believe it is corrupt and incompetent.”

Credit Emily Albrecht/Texas Tribune

The same pattern held true when they were asked about people voting multiple times. Overwhelming numbers of Republican likely voters — 83 percent — said that will be a serious problem this year. among independent voters, 61 percent agreed with that, but only 24 percent of Democrats think multiple voting will be a serious problem.

“This is one of these showcase results where you have to ask the chicken-and-egg question about Republican attitudes in Texas and what Donald Trump seems to have wrought — but might just be plugging into,” said Jim Henson, who heads the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin and co-directs the poll. “Republicans nationally, but also in Texas, have been stoking worries about the election process in the absence of any systematic evidence of any real problems.”

Credit Emily Albrecht/Texas Tribune

The party lines blur a bit when voters are asked about “votes being counted inaccurately.” Three quarters of self-identified Republican and independent voters think that will be a serious concern this year, and 45 percent of Democrats agree with them.

And the lines fade more when it comes to “voting machines being hacked into by a foreign government or other bad actor.” That one got a serious ranking from 66 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of independents and 55 percent of Democrats.

Credit Emily Albrecht/Texas Tribune

The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from Oct. 14 to Oct. 23 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Among likely voters — those who said either that they are certain to vote or that they have voted in “every” recent election — the margin of error is +/- 3.16 percentage points (n=959). Numbers in charts might not add up to 100 percent because of rounding.

Ross Ramsey is managing editor of The Texas Tribune and continues as editor of Texas Weekly, the premier newsletter on government and politics in the Lone Star State, a role he's had since September 1998. Texas Weekly was a print-only journal when he took the reins in 1998; he switched it to a subscription-based, internet-only journal by the end of 2004 without a significant loss in subscribers. As Texas Weekly's primary writer for 11 years, he turned out roughly 2 million words in more than 500 editions, added an online library of resources and documents and items of interest to insiders, and a daily news clipping service that links to stories from papers across Texas. Before joining Texas Weekly in September 1998, Ramsey was associate deputy comptroller for policy with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, also working as the agency's director of communications. Prior to that 28-month stint in government, Ramsey spent 17 years in journalism, reporting for the Houston Chronicle from its Austin bureau and for the Dallas Times Herald, first on the business desk in Dallas and later as the paper's Austin bureau chief. Prior to that, as a Dallas-based freelance business writer, he wrote for regional and national magazines and newspapers. Ramsey got his start in journalism in broadcasting, working for almost seven years covering news for radio stations in Denton and Dallas.
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