A good sign, just remember our mantra about polls.
As state Republicans push to restrict voting, a new poll shows a majority of Texans want more time to vote early and do not approve of threatening voters or those who assist them with felony charges for violations.
Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have highlighted combating voter fraud as a top priority this session, but the poll found 66 percent said they don’t believe significant fraud occurred in the 2020 presidential election. Republican officeholders largely held their own in Texas last year even as Joe Biden fared better than any Democratic presidential candidate in decades.
“Overwhelmingly, 97 percent of Texans said they had a good experience with the election, so it’s really a little confusing about why we’re looking at restricting ballot access … and moreover in a time when Republicans overperformed what many people thought they would in Texas,” said Sarah Walker, executive director of Secure Democracy, a nonpartisan nonprofit that solicited the Ragnar Research poll.
Walker’s organization found that fewer than 1 in 5 Texas Republicans voted on Election Day, and 64 percent of all Republican votes were cast early and nearly one-quarter by mail.
The Ragnar poll found 73 percent of respondents approved of an extra week of early voting, including 58 percent of Republicans, 91 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of independents.
Early voting on weekends was even more popular, with 89 percent in support.
Eighty-four percent also said they supported increasing the number of polling locations, but SB 7 would require all countywide polling places to have the same number of voting machines, which could make it difficult for election officials to open new sites.
Some Republican-crafted legislation this session also seeks to increase the criminal penalty for voting mistakes, including by those assisting disabled voters who fail to fill out and mail ballots correctly.
SB 7 would change the standard for prosecuting voter fraud from clear and certain to a preponderance of evidence, a lower standard of proof.
Eighty-one percent of respondents said they supported voters having the necessary assistance to submit their ballots, and 62 percent said assistants should not be threatened with the possibility of a felony.
House Bill 330, which was introduced by Elections Committee Chair and Republican Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, would make it a state jail felony to list the wrong address on a voter registration application; to provide assistance to a voter who has not requested help; and for a voter to receive assistance if he or she does not have a disability that renders them unable to see or write.
Some measures contained in SB 7 and other bills received bipartisan support in the Ragnar poll. The requirement for an electronic mail ballot tracking system was favored by 83 percent of respondents, and the requirement that electronic voting machines provide an auditable paper trail was favored by 88 percent.
The Secure Democracy webpage is here and their Twitter feed is here. They have a tweet announcing the poll, which was conducted by Republican pollster Chris Perkins and which was of 1,002 “likely” voters, but so far I am unable to find the poll data itself. This matters because we don’t have a whole lot of polling data on these questions, and the wording is sure to matter to some extent. That’s always a factor in issue polling versus candidate polling, so it’s important to be aware of that.
The polling data we do have is as follows:
The UT/Trib poll from February had one question of interest:
Do you think that the rules for voting in Texas should be made more strict, less strict, or left as they are now?
More strict – 27%
Less strict – 25%
Left as they are – 40%
The DMN/UT-Tyler poll also had one question:
Do you agree or disagree that requirements beyond signature verification of absentee ballots are necessary to increase election integrity?
Strongly support – 41%
Support – 22%
Neutral – 20%
Oppose – 9%
Strongly oppose – 8%
The UH/Hobby School poll had multiple questions and was generally favorable towards voting rights, though as noted in that post they surveyed adults, not registered voters. I’ll leave it to you to go back and re-read that post.
So, without seeing the actual data, this is the best poll so far for keeping things as they are or making it easier to vote. It supports my opinions, which I always like but have learned to be hesitant about for obvious reasons. I don’t believe it will cause zealots like Paul Bettencourt or Briscoe Cain think twice, but maybe some of the reps in closer districts will feel some heat. If you’re in one of those districts, you should definitely be calling your rep and letting them know they should not be pushing to make our elections harder and less accessible. I’m not ready to express hope about this, but at least we have some opinion on our side. It’s a start.