Study commissioned by Campaign Legal Center aims to determine confidence in American elections and election process
NEW YORK, NY, May 11, 2023 – Today, the Ad Council Research Institute (ACRI) and the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) released findings from a new study that revealed a significant knowledge gap, as well as ongoing fears and concerns about the fairness and accuracy of the U.S. election process among many conservative-leaning and independent voters. The new study, (Dis)Trust in Elections: Rebuilding Voter Trust & Confidence in the U.S. Election Process, offers organizations, government entities, election boards, and election officials key insights into the ideal target audience for election-confidence building efforts.
“Especially as we head into a new election cycle, the need to instill trust in the process at all levels among American voters is paramount,” said Derrick Feldmann, lead researcher and managing director of ACRI and Ad Council Edge. “While our findings show distrust is present, there is hope. Making this information available will empower organizations in communities across the country to change the tide of voter doubt for the upcoming election cycle and those in the future.”
“American voters should have the utmost confidence that when they cast their ballots on Election Day, their vote will count,” said Sandhya Bathija, vice president of communications for CLC. “Clearly, the research indicates there are some gaps that must be addressed. But there are also reasons to be optimistic—that by drawing attention to the checks and balances within our electoral process, we can help increase knowledge and change attitudes and behaviors among this unique demographic of voters.”
Key findings from the study include:
- The ideal target audience for confidence-building efforts is conservative-leaning and independent voters.
- Only about a third (31%) of conservative-leaning voters in the sample believe the 2020 presidential election was conducted fairly and accurately. Another third (35%) are not very confident, and 31% are not confident at all.
- Half of independent voters (51%) were somewhat confident, with 28% not very and 18% not at all confident in the fairness and/or accuracy of the election.
- Distrust is built by multiple factors and exacerbated by a lack of knowledge.
- Top beliefs among conservative-leaning voters that contribute to distrust: voting fraud took place (74%), unregistered voters and/or undocumented immigrants1 voted (72%), encouraging multiple voting / making voting easier for some (58%).
- Top beliefs among independent voters: Encouraging multiple voting/ making voting easier for some (50%), voting fraud took place (48%), unregistered voters and/or undocumented immigrants1 voted (44%).
- Despite ongoing distrust, people still support the country, believe in the US, and plan to continue exercising their right to vote in the future.
- 43% of conservative-leaning voters and 39% of independents say this distrust has no impact on their likelihood to vote; 38% of conservatives and 32% of independents say it makes them much more likely to vote.
(Dis)Trust in Elections: Rebuilding Voter Trust & Confidence in the U.S. Election Process provides a deeper look into voter distrust in the U.S. election process. Download the report.
About the Ad Council and ACRI
The Ad Council convenes creative storytellers to educate, unite and uplift audiences by opening hearts, inspiring action and accelerating change around the most pressing issues in America. Since the non-profit’s founding, the organization and its partners in advertising, media, marketing and tech have been behind some of the country’s most iconic and impactful campaigns – Smokey Bear, A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste, Love Has No Labels, Tear the Paper Ceiling and many more. With a current focus on mental health, racial justice, gun violence and other critical issues, the Ad Council’s national campaigns encompass advertising and media content, ground game and community efforts, trusted messenger and influencer engagement, among other innovative strategies to move the needle on the most important issues of the day.
The Ad Council Research Institute (ACRI) leverages the Ad Council’s insight-driven approach to examine some of the most important social issues of our time. Building upon years of research expertise, ACRI works with brand, corporate and nonprofit partners and clients to conduct research to gain a deeper understanding of the public’s perceptions, attitudes and willingness to act on social issues; develop and test messaging and narratives for social good campaigns; help build knowledge on the role influencers or trusted messengers can play to move the public to act; and identify key performance indicators for communications initiatives, and the tools through which to measure, assess and optimize them over time. Learn more about ACRI and our 2022 research agenda here.
About the Campaign Legal Center
Campaign Legal Center (CLC) is a nonpartisan organization that advocates for every eligible voter to meaningfully participate in the democratic process. CLC uses tactics such as litigation, policy advocacy, partnerships and communications to make systemic impact at all levels of government. The organization is committed to democracy, not to political parties or results, and was founded in 2002 by its current president, Trevor Potter, Republican former commissioner of the Federal Election Commission. To find out more about Campaign Legal Center, visit CampaignLegal.org.