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Nearly one-third of Iowans are doubtful that next year's election results across the country will be counted as voters intended.
A new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows 63% of Iowa adults are confident that the results of the 2022 midterm elections will be counted as voters intended, while 32% are doubtful. Six percent say they are not sure.
Iowans were asked: “How confident are you that, across the country, the votes in the 2022 general election next year will be counted as voters intended — very confident, mostly confident, mostly doubtful or very doubtful?”
The poll’s findings come as former President Donald Trump continues to complain, without evidence, that the 2020 election was stolen from him through widespread fraud.
Trump held a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in October, joined by most of Iowa’s top Republican elected officials, where he repeated those false claims.
Tom Hall, an 81-year-old poll respondent from Altoona, said he’s very confident the election results will be counted as intended next year, but blames Trump for sowing doubt about whether elections are being conducted fairly. Hall is a political independent who said he has caucused for both Democrats and Republicans for president in the past. He voted for President Joe Biden in 2020.
“I’ve always believed in the integrity of our elections,” said Hall, a retired teacher and construction worker. “And I think we’ve never had any problem with that until Donald Trump started crying foul even though he lost by 7 million votes.”
The poll was conducted by Selzer & Co. from Nov. 7-10. It surveyed 810 Iowans and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
Trump backers split on whether next year's vote count will be right
Those who voted for Trump in 2020 are nearly split on the question, with 47% saying they are doubtful the results will be counted as voters intended and 46% saying they are confident.
John Link, a 47-year-old poll respondent from Dyersville who said his politics lean “very Republican,” said he’s very doubtful next year’s election results will be counted as voters intended.
Link, a diesel mechanic, said he believes dead people’s votes are being counted around the country.
“It’s common,” Link said. “You see it on the news. You see how many dead people that voted, and they never vote for Republicans.”
While allegations of dead people voting are common, experts have said it’s exceedingly rare for that to happen. States generally have procedures for removing dead people from voter rolls. Most states cancel someone’s ballot if they cast their vote early but die before Election Day.
Experts have said in most cases the appearance that someone voted after their death is due to a clerical error or another issue, such as two people with similar names.
Link said he is also concerned about “ballot harvesting” — a derogatory term for the practice of allowing third parties such as neighbors, political campaigns or interest groups to collect and return a voter’s absentee ballot. About half of the states allow a voter to designate someone to return their ballot for them, and at least a dozen of those limit how many ballots one person may collect and return, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
In Iowa, Republicans changed the law this year to only allow family members or household members to return a voter’s ballot, with limited exceptions for some people with disabilities.
The change was part of a sweeping election law that also shortened Iowa's early voting period and closed the polls an hour earlier on Election Day. Iowa was one of several Republican-led states to pass laws this year curtailing early voting and tightening the rules for casting absentee ballots.
Despite his doubt, Link said he plans to vote in next year’s midterm elections.
Vast majority of Democrats confident votes will be counted as intended
Among Democrats, 88% say they are confident the results will be counted as voters intended, while 9% are doubtful. Independents closely match the results for Iowans overall, with 62% saying they are confident, and 34% saying they are doubtful.
Democrats are six times more likely than Republicans to say they are very confident the results will be counted correctly. Nearly half of Democrats, 48%, say they are very confident compared to 8% of Republicans.
Bekki Schoon, a 66-year-old Democratic poll respondent from Pocahontas, said she is mostly doubtful that the results will be counted fairly next year. That’s because Republicans are putting in place laws around the country that restrict access to voting and, in some cases, give partisan entities more power over the election process, she said.
“The ballots are the ballots,” said Schoon, who is retired from a company that provides care for dependent adults. “You count the ballots. And everybody that’s registered to vote should be allowed to vote, and every vote that’s cast should count.”
About this poll
The Iowa Poll, conducted November 7-10, 2021, for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, is based on telephone interviews with 810 Iowans ages 18 or older. Interviewers with Quantel Research contacted households with randomly selected landline and cell phone numbers supplied by Dynata. Interviews were administered in English. Responses were adjusted by age, sex, and congressional district to reflect the general population based on recent American Community Survey estimates.
Questions based on the sample of 810 Iowa adults have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Questions based on the subsample of 658 likely voters in the 2024 presidential election have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. This means that if this survey were repeated using the same questions and the same methodology, 19 times out of 20, the findings would not vary from the true population value by more than plus or minus 3.4 percentage points or 3.8 percentage points, respectively. Results based on smaller samples of respondents — such as by gender or age — have a larger margin of error.
Republishing the copyright Iowa Poll without credit to the Des Moines Register and Mediacom is prohibited.
Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Iowa Poll: Nearly a third doubtful 2022 votes will be counted fairly