New study reveals US voters risk being left behind by today’s voting systems
Washington D.C., United States - February 29, 2016 – In advance of the March 1 Super Tuesday primaries, Smartmatic released new research today highlighting broad concerns among registered US voters about the current state of the US election system and the risks of voter disenfranchisement. The new research underlined the connection between inconvenient voting processes with outdated technologies and decreased voter participation.
Surveying more than 1,000 registered voters, Smartmatic’s research revealed that a majority view the current voting system as inefficient and say the current system discourages Americans from voting.
The research also found concerns among Hispanic/Latino voters about the language barriers they confront when voting. That same group of voters believes that modernizing current voting systems can increase voter participation.
Moreover, respondents indicated a strong belief that low turnout of this kind could have a negative impact on America’s democracy overall.
“The research makes clear that US voters want changes to today’s voting system,” said Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica. “We found that certain underlying factors can significantly impact Americans’ experiences at the polls which in turn influences their perceptions of, and—most important—their participation in, the democratic process.”
Additional findings showed:
Change is needed
• The strong majority (81%) of all total respondents felt changes needed to be made to the US voter experience and voting system.
• Regarding solutions for modernizing the voting system, respondents were divided among the three related priorities presented, with 33% stating that the most needed change is to “incorporate online remote voting,” 28% stating that “US voting technology should be updated to be ‘user-friendly,’” and 20% believing that “the voting process should be made more efficient by reducing the amount of time necessary to cast a vote.”
Time inefficiencies are a deterrent
• One in three (33%) of US registered voters surveyed said there had been at least one past election in which they had intended to vote, but ultimately did not.
• 45% of voters who had intended to vote in a past election, but ultimately did not, stated that a lack of time was their primary reason for not voting. They were either too busy with work, too busy with personal commitments, or had gone to the polls to vote but the wait was too long.
• 56% of survey respondents agreed that many people do not vote because the voting process is time-consuming and inefficient. Further, 63% of the younger generation (respondents aged 18-34), 63% of African-Americans, and 60% of Hispanics/Latinos agreed with this same statement.
Preferences by age and minority group
• 56% of Hispanic/Latino voters agreed that many people do not vote because of language barriers faced at the polls that discourage them from voting.
• 83% of African-Americans and 76% of Hispanic/Latino voters agreed that we need to invest in modernizing the voting system as a way of increasing voter participation and thereby strengthening democracy.
• 60% of respondents overall, and 72% of senior respondents (aged 65 and older), stated that low voter turnout affects American democracy in a negative way.
Recent studies, such as that of the Brennan Center, have shown how the majority of America’s existing voting machines are dangerously outdated. Aside from creating the opportunity for fraud or error, many of these machines fail to address the needs of today’s voters which, as Smartmatic’s research shows, could lead to disenfranchisement. During his final State of the Union address, President Obama himself referenced the challenges facing voters when he called for voting to be made easier, not harder, for all Americans.
“These findings send a clear message that more can and should be done to modernize the electoral process,” said Mugica. “If harnessed to its full effect, technology can transform the voting experience. This research is a clear call to action and an important contribution to understanding what this next generation of solutions should be.