AJC Poll: Doubts about election fairness persist with Georgia voters

Lack of confidence entrenched in Republican voters who still doubt 2020 results after Trump lost and spread false narratives of fraud
Gwinnett County resident Dana Pulliam leaves after voting on Georgia's primary runoff election at Lucky Shoals Park on Tuesday, June18, 2024 in Norcross. (Hyosub Shin / AJC)

Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

Gwinnett County resident Dana Pulliam leaves after voting on Georgia's primary runoff election at Lucky Shoals Park on Tuesday, June18, 2024 in Norcross. (Hyosub Shin / AJC)

Voter confidence remains low in Georgia — especially among conservatives — with slightly over half of likely voters saying the upcoming presidential election will be fair and accurate, according to a new Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll.

The AJC poll indicates that faith in elections hasn’t recovered since Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election and continued to repeat the false claim that he had won.

About 57% of voters surveyed said they’re at least somewhat confident in this year’s election, which is the same confidence level as in a previous AJC poll in January and close to the 56% who expressed trust in elections in 2022.

Inger Eberhart, a 53-year-old Republican voter from Canton, said the explosion of absentee voting during the COVID-19 pandemic undermined her certainty in election results in 2020, but this year’s election will be more secure. Very few cases of illegal absentee voting have been proved.

“It was problematic when we had folks getting ballots at the wrong address, and the lack of ballot tracking and tracing,” said Eberhart, who works in communications. “There are a lot of questions that haven’t been answered.”

Three vote counts, court cases and multiple state election investigations upheld Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow victory.

Just 35% of Republicans said they’re confident the presidential election will be fair and accurate, the poll showed. By comparison, 77% of Democrats and 74% of independents expressed trust in elections.

Sarah Wilkerson, a 43-year-old Democratic voter from Milton, said election results are accurate because they’re counted by ballot scanners and verified with printed-out paper ballots.

“There’s a lot of checks and balances, so I can’t imagine there would be any mistake,” said Wilkerson, who works in sales. “Not only are they tracking it electronically, but we have the physical paper so it can match up. It’s really intense that anyone would think otherwise.”

The poll was conducted by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs from June 11-22 and involved 1,000 likely voters. The poll has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

Since the 2020 election, Georgia Republican lawmakers have passed new election laws each year that they have said are designed to increase confidence among skeptical constituents.

But doubts about elections are entrenched in Republican belief, regardless of changes to election laws, in part because their candidate lost and because he has spent the past three years claiming the vote was rigged.

Ron Prince, an 80-year-old Trump voter from Newton County, said whether he trusts this year’s results will depend on how the votes are tallied.

“It just depends how it goes,” said Prince, a retiree who owns rental homes. “I’d have to not see any reports of ballot fraud. ... I don’t really know what I would need to see to be able to trust them.”

Belief that there was significant fraud in 2020 reflects the levels of distrust heading into this year’s election, according to the AJC poll.

About 43% of all voters surveyed said they believed there was widespread fraud in the last presidential election, a rate fueled by 76% of Republican voters who said they thought there was massive cheating, the poll showed. In last January’s poll, 46% of those surveyed believed in widespread fraud in 2020.

“There was not widespread fraud in the 2020 election,” said Napoleon Wright, a 72-year-old retired IT executive from Smyrna who supports Biden. “It was a plot on the part of those in the losing position to try to create questions around what the voters had clearly decided. It was their failure to accept the reality of what voters wanted.”

The AJC poll also showed a partisan divide over the importance of democracy when deciding whom to support for president.

Over 25% of Democratic voters ranked “preserving democracy” as the biggest influence on their vote for president, compared with 4% of Republican voters.

Overall, “preserving democracy” was the third-most important issue in the poll among all voters, behind inflation/cost of living and the economy but ahead of immigration and abortion.

Staff writer Zachary Hansen contributed to this article.