Political candidates campaign, then the voters vote. That’s the way our democracy is supposed to work. Rough and tumble political campaigns give way to the people making a decision through the ballot box. And those ballots are supposed to be counted fairly and accurately.
That’s the way it should be, and that’s the way Texans want it. In this increasingly polarized time, bipartisanship can be tough to muster on many issues. Yet, there’s plenty Texans agree on when it comes to our elections -- and above all, they believe: our elections must be free from partisan interference.
In a new statewide poll of Texas voters I conducted on behalf of Secure Democracy, 90% of Texans believe state lawmakers should take steps to protect their elections from partisan interference, and 91% of Texans say the legislature should not be allowed to reject or overturn election results without clear proof of fraud.
Rejecting partisan influence and voter intimidation in our elections also is reflected in 93% of voters believing that poll watchers should have proper training and 86% of voters that do not want poll watchers to film or photograph their votes.
Earlier polling I conducted this spring, found Texans have great confidence that the 2020 elections in Texas went well and reported good personal experiences with voting. Texas voters also view the Texas election system as well managed and do not believe significant voter fraud occurred in Texas
My latest poll also found strong bipartisan support among Texas voters for policies that increase accessibility and accountability to voters within the Texas election system, including extending early voting, providing additional polling locations on Election Day, and allowing voters to correct small errors on their mail ballots.
Corrections for small errors on mail ballots are broadly supported. Sixty-nine percent of voters want to create a consistent process to allow voters to correct mail ballots before they are tossed out, including 60% of Republican voters.
Texas Republicans made significant gains among diverse demographics in last year’s elections, and they did so by attracting new voters and registering more voters. Making voting accessible is something that cuts across party lines in strong majorities, too.
Texans love to cast their ballots early, and 74% of voters want to expand the accessibility of early voting by one week. Eighty percent of voters want to add a second weekend of early voting. Long lines and wait times shouldn’t be the norm when voting either. Eighty-seven percent of all voters and 69% of Republican voters support increasing the number of polling locations on Election Day.
Texas voters also overwhelmingly oppose threatening election officials with criminal prosecution when it minimizes voter assistance. Eighty-six percent of voters said election workers shouldn’t worry about risking jail time for doing their jobs. The same percentage (86%) oppose felony charges for providing assistance to voters with disabilities or voters with other unique needs at polling locations.
We can and should do all we can to protect Texans’ freedom to vote. Access and transparency will strengthen Texas elections for every voter.
Chris Perkins, a partner at Ragnar Research, is a top public opinion expert in Texas.