Local authorities’ confidence in election security high, but misinformation raises concerns
Michigan city and township officials are even more confident in their jurisdiction’s election security and ability to administer an accurate election than they were in 2020, but fears misinformation is taking its toll , according to a survey by the University of Michigan.
The survey found that 85% are “very” confident that the final voting results, voting machines and voters lists in their jurisdiction will not be compromised, up significantly from 63% who were very confident in the three aspects of election security in 2020. Only 2% today are not very or not at all confident about these security issues.
The Michigan Public Policy Survey also showed that 78% are very confident that their voting machines, voter rolls or vote count have been compromised, up sharply from 58% in 2020.
Despite overwhelming certainty that their own elections will be accurate, just over half of local state officials believe their own residents are very confident in the accuracy of their community’s elections.
Local leaders are also less confident in the ability of other Michigan jurisdictions to administer accurate elections, though large majorities still express confidence. Less than half (40%) are very confident in elections in other jurisdictions and 36% are somewhat confident, while 17% are not very or not at all confident.
The report shows that while local leaders of all partisan stripes have similar confidence in the accuracy of their own local elections, partisanship clearly plays a role in local leaders’ concerns about elections in other Michigan communities. Only 31% of local officials who identify as Republicans are very confident in elections in other jurisdictions, compared to 48% of independents and 64% of Democrats.
At the other end of the scale, nearly a quarter of local Republican leaders are not very confident or not at all confident in the accuracy of other jurisdictions’ elections, compared to 12% of independents and just 1% of Democrats. .
“We are encouraged by these results, that even against the noise created by election deniers and conspiracies, confidence in the accuracy and security of election administration remains high,” said Debra Horner, senior program manager. at the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) at UM Ford’s School of Public Policy. “However, city and township clerks still face a wide range of challenges. For example, in large jurisdictions, 60% expect to have problems recruiting enough poll workers for November.
A survey respondent said that despite public accuracy tests, workshops organized by the Registrar’s Office and other transparency efforts, some members of the public are still influenced by misinformation.
Post-election administrative processes, including counting mail-in ballots, reconciling constituencies and certifying the final tally, have been a point of contention among the public. But in the spring of 2022, only 3% of local leaders expect administrative problems with these activities after the polls close in November. This is reflected in township clerks, the local officials responsible for managing elections in their jurisdictions, who have even greater confidence in the accuracy of local elections: 94% of clerks are “very confident”.
“Despite the ongoing disinformation campaign to sow doubt about our elections, people should understand that the administration of elections is actually done very well by most local governments, as hundreds of audits show time and time again. across the state,” said Tom Ivacko, executive director of CLOSE. “There are many checks and balances built into the system to find and correct problems so that the count of certified votes accurately reflects the will of voters.”
The report concludes that Michigan local officials overall express confidence in their jurisdictions’ ability to conduct accurate elections. Still, he adds, “it remains to be seen whether Michigan residents will feel the same levels of confidence once the election is over.”
The Spring 2022 wave of the survey was conducted by CLOSUP between April 4 and June 6, 2022. The survey of Michigan’s 1,856 general purpose local governments is conducted in partnership with the Michigan Association of Counties, the Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan Townships Association.