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Research: Americans Believe in Our Democracy


Tuesday, November 3, 2020   

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- While Americans have many concerns this Election Day, researchers say most believe our elections are safe, secure and legitimate.

Democracy for President is an initiative that encourages voters to have productive conversations around concerns about the election and possible outcomes. Nonpartisan organization "More in Common" developed the resource, which U.S. Director Dan Vallone explained includes polling on voters' views of democracy.

He said while just 41% of Americans believe the federal government is prepared to keep the election secure, 68% have confidence in their local officials.

"Most Americans trust that, at the local level, we're going to get this election right; that our system has the capacity to deliver a legitimate result, and that our democracy has handled challenges before and that we're going to do it again this year," Vallone said.

In the survey, most respondents said they feel a sense of pride in being an American when they vote, and voting is a way they can improve the country. And 81% said while democracy is imperfect, it is preferable to other forms of government.

The polling also found 7-in-10 Americans are worried about the risk of violence after election results are announced. While most reject the notion that physically attacking a political opponent is justified, Vallone said Americans don't believe those on the other side of the aisle agree.

"Americans are overwhelmingly committed to a peaceful election, and we have a significantly exaggerated sense for the degree to which our political opponents would justify violence," he said. "Anybody who is contemplating violence is doing so way outside the boundaries of what Americans consider appropriate."

Vallone said the research can be used to mitigate misinformation and foster constructive conversations around the political process.

"If somebody is concerned because what they're seeing on social media or in the news, we can acknowledge the authenticity of those concerns and then talk about how many Americans are committed to peace, talk about the headlines that we don't often see, but that actually are reflective of the reality," he said.

Vallone encourages voters to engage in conversations that focus on shared goals and values, as well as hopes for the community, the election and democracy.

Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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