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June 20, 2024 ABA Task Force for American Democracy

(Dis)Trust in Elections: Identifying Who Distrusts the Election Process and Why

Campaign Legal Center


Despite many election observers declaring the 2020 election the most secure in history, there is still widespread distrust in the integrity of American elections. This report summarizes results from a mixed-methods research study of voter perceptions regarding election integrity. The quantitative portion of the study surveyed 2,572 “conservative-leaning” and “independent” voters who distrust elections and live in one of seven critical swing states: Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina, and Georgia. The study focuses on this “conservative-leaning” and “independent” demographic of distrusting voters because the authors believe they are a group that can be convinced to trust elections again. Data is presented with an eye toward informing organizations, government entities, and election officials on how they can best target outreach programs to improve voter confidence.

Key Findings/Messages

The report identifies the Russian Internet Research Agency and GOP election deniers as the two primary drivers of election disinformation campaigns. The study found voters over the age of 45 were more likely to drive social conversations around trust in the election process. Many voters identified personal experiences that caused or reinforced distrust, such as receiving multiple ballots or not having their ID checked at a polling station. Distrust in the electoral process is highest after votes are cast. Despite distrust, voters think highly of the U.S. and plan to continue to vote in elections. In fact, some voters said their distrust of elections would make them more likely to vote in future elections.

Key Recommendations Made

To improve the trust of the surveyed voters, they must be consistently targeted with strategic messaging delivered by sources they trust. Messaging should focus on informing and reassuring voters about the election administration process after ballots are cast.

This document has been submitted to the Task Force for American Democracy for consideration and has been posted and/or circulated for information purposes only. The views expressed herein represent the opinions of the author(s) and not those of the Task Force or the ABA. They have not been reviewed or approved by the House of Delegates or the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association and, accordingly, should not be construed as representing the position of the Association or any of its entities. This publication is freely available to download, copy and distribute provided there is attribution to the ABA Task Force for American Democracy, and provided this notice is reproduced on all copies.