Report on Citizen Opinions about Voting and Elections
In April of 2015 and October of 2014, the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion completed two separate surveys, each of 1,000 American adults on their attitudes toward voting, elections, felon enfranchisement and campaign finance reform.
The surveys were designed to evaluate the current state of elections in the United States, with the backdrop of the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Students of a course entitled Survey Research worked in conjunction with Center for Public Opinion faculty members to revise and complete part of the survey and analysis. The survey was then administered by YouGov and fielded in April 2014.
Examination of the data reveals three important themes:
- The Voting Rights Act promised to right historical inequities in the availability and exercise of the franchise, people of color in America perceive higher barriers to voting and a greater acceptance of the idea of the universal franchise.
- Voting has become highly politicized. Whether or not the two parties stand to gain anything from laws that make it harder or easier to vote, Republicans generally favor laws that make voting more difficult, while Democrats favor laws that make voting easier.
- Americans hold a variety of sometimes incongruent attitudes toward campaign finance that include a strong belief that money creates a great deal of inequity in the process, but also a large resistance to allowing the government to solve this problem through many legal sanctions or publicly funded campaigns.