Confidence that votes in the US 2020 election will be accurately cast and counted has dropped significantly since 2019, according to a new poll.

Iran Press/America: The public's reaction to next week’s election outcomes will be a serious test of our democracy, especially if the results are delayed or change over time as the record number of absentee ballots are counted. Disturbingly, according to Grinnell College National Polls, confidence in the 2020 election has dropped significantly.

In October 2019 and March 2020, about 69 percent of respondents were very or somewhat confident that ballots would be counted as voters intended. But by late August, that percentage had fallen seven points. Moreover, nearly four in 10 respondents thought that substantial amounts of fraud are likely from mail-in absentee ballots.

In short, deep political polarization, efforts to reduce access to voting, and President Trump’s unrelenting divisiveness and fear-mongering have created a real risk that Americans may not accept the election results. Such deep suspicions could severely hamper the next administration and undermine the legitimacy of future elections, according to the Hill. 

The Grinnell Poll revealed crucial differences in who holds these opinions. For instance, Black respondents were far less confident (42 percent) in the tallying of votes than the rest of the public (64 percent), although they were less likely to believe that mail-in ballots represent a significant opportunity for fraud (31 percent) than white conservatives (52 percent). Younger voters and those less certain they will vote also expressed more concern about fraud and less confidence in the counting of votes.

The lack of confidence in the counting of votes probably reflects a distrust of election policy, while fear of absentee voting may represent a distrust of voters — that is, a belief in rampant voter fraud. The long history of disenfranchising non-white voters in the US may underlie Black citizens’ apprehension about the vote count. And President Trump’s frequent claims about fraud by non-citizens and via mail-in voting have contributed to his conservative supporters’ unfounded belief in fraud.