Voters agree: American political system is broken

A plurality of voters in each of 32 states agree that the political system in the U.S. is “badly broken.”  Percentages range from a high of 63% in Vermont to 47% in Nebraska, but all point in the same direction. The Rasmussen Reports surveys were conducted as part of a series of Election 2006 polls on Senate and Governor’s races across the nation.  

An earlier, national, survey found that just 48% of American adults believe that elections are generally fair to voters. That number has been fairly consistent since we began polling on the topic in the mid-90s. The only change has been the partisan details. In the 1990s, with a Democrat in the White House, Democrats were more likely than Republicans to believe that elections are fair. Now, with a Republican in the White House, the partisan perspectives have reversed.  

That earlier survey also found that, by a 68% to 29% margin, American adults believe that election ballots should be printed in English only rather than English and Spanish.  A look at the state-by-state results shows, not surprisingly, great divides along geographic lines.   

In 22 of the 32 states, at least 60% of voters favored English only ballots. Topping this list were Tennessee (77%), Montana (72%), West Virginia (71%) and Alabama and Georgia (70%). 

Vermont, at 49%, had the lowest support for English only ballots. Forty-seven percent (47%) of voters in Howard Dean’s home state disagree and want bilingual ballots. Texas, New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland were the only other states where more than 40% of voters favor bilingual ballots. 

There was little geographic difference on the question of whether individuals should be required to present photo identification (such as a driver’s license) when they go to the polls.  Support for this approach ranged from 60% in Vermont to 92% in Florida.  

Maine was the only other state to register below the 73% level of support for requiring photo ID’s. 

Discussions of voter fraud sometime revolve around assumptions of voter suppression-people who should be allowed to vote but are prevented from doing so. Other times, people express concern that people vote who are not eligible. In eighteen states, more voters are concerned to ineligible voters are allowed to cast ballots. In twelve states, more voters are concerned about people prevented from voting. 

Voters in New York are more likely than in any other state to express a concern about voter suppression. Thirty-four percent (34%) of Empire State voters hold this view. 

Washington and Arizona are tops when it comes to concerns about ineligible people casting ballots. In Washington, that may be the result of controversies in the election for Governor. In Arizona, it is more likely tied to concerns about illegal immigrants. 

Rasmussen Reports has also released data on state-by-state assessments of the most important issues in Election 2006, whether the Bible is literally true, and preliminary Presidential match-ups for Election 2008.

Each state survey of 500 Likely Voters was conducted between July 15-August 14, 2006. The margin of sampling error for each survey is +/- 4.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

Rasmussen Reports is an electronic publishing firm specializing in the collection, publication, and distribution of public opinion polling information.