Aug 5, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Poll: 41% of people in U.S. feel safe at polling places

Voting booths set up at the Ames Public Library for a primary election on June 7, 2022 in Ames, Iowa. Photo: Stephen Maturen via Getty Images

Only 41% of people in America feel safe at polling places, with Black and Hispanic people experiencing a lower sense of security compared to white people, according to a new poll conducted by Edge Research.

Why it matters: Divisions in U.S. society have worsened significantly in recent months. The rise in extremism, the recurrence of gun violence and the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection have also left Americans feeling increasingly vulnerable ahead of the midterm elections.

By the numbers: The poll, commissioned by the nonprofit Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE), found that 47% of white people feel safe at polling places, while 28% of Black people and 37% of Hispanic people report the same sense of security.

  • Overall, 63% of survey participants said they are "very worried" about at least one of the following — fraud, violence, harassment, or intimidation — happening at the polls and their polling place.
  • 28% percent are "very worried" about organized groups like the Proud Boys showing up as poll watchers. 25% and 21%, respectively, worried about intimidation from either right-wing or left-wing extremists.
  • The potential of voter intimidation and harassment is a grave concern to 39% of Black people and 38% of Hispanic people compared to 19% of white people.
  • Meanwhile, 24% of white people, 44% of Black people and 45% of Hispanic people expressed concern about a violent attack or shooting on Election Day.
  • GPAHE's survey did not include data on Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders or Indigenous people.

What they're saying: "Americans are generally more afraid than we were five years ago," GPAHE wrote in a post sharing the poll results.

  • "Mass shootings, political and racial divisions, and extremist rhetoric and violence are all taking their toll on Americans’ sense of safety and security."
  • "Most significantly, these fears are causing Americans to be wary of involvement in the democratic process, including voting."
  • "People’s fear that our nation’s voting stations are unsafe is extremely concerning given that they are obviously the linchpin to a well-functioning democracy."

The big picture: This disruption to the sense of safety comes as GOP-led state legislatures move to limit access to voting, including mail-in voting.

Methodologies: This poll surveyed a demographically representative sample of 1,003 U.S. adults 18 years of age and older. The online omnibus study was conducted three times a week from July 22 to 24.

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