Texan voters concerned about election security

Voters at the polls (KXAN Photo)
Voters at the polls (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (NEXSTAR) — Election Day is eight days away and as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump gear up for the final week of presidential campaigns, Texas voters question election security and if the results can be trusted.

According to a new statewide poll, nine out of ten Republicans think ineligible voters casting ballots will be a serious problem in this year’s election.

While an overwhelming number of Republicans, about 84 percent of the party’s likely voters in the state, said ineligible voters will be a problem, only 23 percent of Democrats agreed. “It’s hard to get 84 percent of people to agree on anything,” said Jim Henson.

The leader of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, Henson is the co-director of the poll. He and fellow pollsters at the Texas Tribune saw the same pattern, a big a divide along party lines, when it comes to concerns that people will vote more than once.

Among Republicans, 83 percent said multiple voting will be a serious problem but only 24 percent of Democrats said the same. The Republican presidential nominee, Trump has repeatedly claimed the election is “rigged” against him. “When the outcome is fixed, when the system is rigged, people lose hope,” Trump told supporters at a rally in Arizona Saturday.

“You can’t really rig these elections,” Scott Bailey said outside a polling location in Austin. An early voter who cast his ballot for Clinton, Bailey said, “The people running this election in Texas are all Republicans, so it’s certainly not going to be rigged against Trump.”

Henson said Trump’s claims hit home with voters in Texas, where the heated debate over the state’s voter ID law started before this election season. “But it’s hard for me to imagine that Trump’s rhetoric about conspiracy and ‘rigging’ has not amped this up, particularly among Republicans,” Henson said.

Concern levels among the two parties were less divided when asked about inaccurate vote counts. While the Republicans hovered around the 80 percent marker, 45 percent of Democrats agreed votes being counted incorrectly will be a problem in Texas this year.

According to the poll, Democrats in Texas is think “voting machines being hacked into by a foreign government or other bad actor,” will be the biggest problem in this year’s election. More than half of Democrats polled, 55 percent, said hacking will be a serious problem in the election and 66 percent of Republicans agreed. Henson said the suggestion that there’s evidence to show Russia was involved in the hack of the Democratic Party’s email resonated with Texas Democrats.

Henson said there is little to no empirical evidence to show any of the concerns mentioned in the poll have been or appear to be a “significant problem.” For the most part, Henson believes the concerns about election security have been “whipped up out of partisan discussion without much in the way of facts to back it up,” he said. Prompted by Trump’s claims that the election is “rigged,” this is the first time the pollster asked Texas voters about election security.

At a rally in Florida Saturday, Clinton said, “Donald Trump is doing his best to confuse, discourage and mislead the American people.” Clinton told the crowd it’s time for Trump to “stop fear mongering, stop distracting from what’s really at stake, and, frankly, stop disgracing our democracy.”

Clinton dismissed the FBI’s review of newly discovered emails that might be related to her use of a private server while the Trump campaign unleashed a fresh line of attacks on his Democratic rival. “Hillary Clinton’s corruption is a threat to democracy and the only way to save our democracy is to get out and vote by the millions,” Trump said in Grand Rapids, Michigan Monday.

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