6/17/2021 Peter Durantine

F&M Poll: Majority Believe State’s Election Laws Need Revisions

Fifty-nine percent of Pennsylvania’s registered voters believe revisions are needed to the state’s election laws, according to the recent Franklin & Marshall College Poll.

The poll, conducted June 7-13, follows months of Republican-led efforts in many states across the country to change voting laws in response to false claims made by former President Donald Trump and his GOP allies that the 2020 election was stolen from him. 

Among Pennsylvania voters, the poll showed that 75% of Republicans believed that election law changes are needed compared to 52% of independents and 46% of Democrats. 

“This is just a fraught, partisan argument at the moment,” F&M Poll Director Berwood Yost said, and noted that in terms of election reform, “It’s difficult to know how things will change.”

Of the voters polled, a majority, 81%, favored signature matching for mail-in ballots and 74% supported photo ID requirements. Voters are divided about eliminating “no-excuse” voting by mail. Yost said the poll showed that support for these reforms differs substantially by political party. 

In the poll’s other key findings, voters’ concern about COVID-19 has substantially diminished, from one in three voters, or 31%, who believed it was the state’s most important problem in March to less than one in 10 voters, or 7%, today.

Nearly four in five voters, 79%, reported having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, a significant increase from March when 31% reported having at least one dose. Among those reporting having at least one dose, 94% were Democrats, 84% independents and 61% Republicans.

What topped voters’ concerns as the most pressing issues facing the state were government and politics at 30%, and the economy at 15%, including unemployment and personal finances.  

Pennsylvania voters remain pessimistic, despite increased vaccination rate that has started to reopen the state, Yost said. Only 35% believe the state is “headed in the right direction,” which is unchanged since March and significantly lower than the pre-pandemic high of 57% reported in October 2019. 

“That’s curious,” Yost said. “The [increased vaccination rate] hasn’t translated into a general optimism. … We should see optimism.”

The lack of optimism is reflected in Gov. Tom Wolf’s approval rating. The poll showed 39% of respondents rate Wolf’s performance as “excellent” or “good,” compared to 52% in July 2020.

However, 44% of voters in Pennsylvania believe President Joe Biden is doing an “excellent” or “good” job as president, and his approval rating for managing the pandemic is 49%. 

The F&M Poll, like all surveys, is a snapshot of a specific point in time, not a forecast. All polls have variability; voters change their minds; and events after a survey can sometimes influence voters’ decisions, including whether to vote at all.

Conducted by the Center for Opinion Research at F&M, the poll reflects interviews with 444 Pennsylvania likely voters, including 205 Democrats, 177 Republicans and 62 independents. The sample error is plus or minus 6.4 percentage points.

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