Kansas Speaks: Less trust in elections since last year

Laura McMillan

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A new survey of Kansans released Tuesday shows more mistrust of elections than one year ago. There is also more support for getting rid of some election conveniences, such as voting by mail and voting early.

The Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University released its Kansas Speaks Fall 2023 survey at noon on Tuesday. The survey is co-sponsored by the Wichita Journalism Collaborative, including KSN News. For the survey, 485 Kansas adults responded to an online questionnaire between Sept. 20 and Oct. 10.

Confidence in election outcome?

One of the noticeable differences between those surveyed last year and those polled this year is the growing lack of confidence in the outcome of elections.

This year, only 54% of those surveyed believe the winners of Kansas elections are the actual candidates who got the most votes. That’s down 15 percentage points from last year when 69.1% said they believed the correct people were announced as winners.

Last year, 7.6% of Kansans didn’t trust the correct winners were announced. This year that jumped to 11%. The number of those who are neutral on the subject or who don’t know grew from 23.3% to 35%.

Is election fraud a problem in Kansas?

Those surveyed were also asked their opinion of the statement, “Fraud is generally not a problem in Kansas elections.”

This year, 41.1% of respondents agreed that fraud is generally not a problem. That’s down seven percentage points from last year.

However, the number of people who think fraud is a problem increased by almost seven percentage points.

The percentage of people who are neutral on the topic or who don’t know remained about the same.

Abolish voting by mail?

There seems to be more distrust for voting by mail this year, too. The survey included the statement, “Vote by mail should be abolished in Kansas.”

This year, 30.1% of those who responded agreed, up from 26.7% last year.

Last year, 53.8% of those surveyed disagreed with getting rid of mailed-in ballots. This year, only 47.1% disagreed.

Should ballot drop boxes be banned?

Currently, in Kansas, people who get advance ballots can drop them in ballot drop boxes in their county. Some critics have argued that the drop boxes could lead to election fraud.

In the Kansas Speaks survey, 29.2% agreed that drop boxes should be banned. That is similar to last year’s result of 30.5%.

Early voting should be abolished?

County election offices often provide some days, even weeks, before an election for people to vote early at the election office or a designated site.

This year’s survey shows less support for that type of early voting. Those surveyed were asked if they agree or disagree with the statement, “Early voting should be abolished in Kansas.”

This year, 18.1% agreed with the statement, while 49.6% disagreed. Last year, 14.5% of those surveyed agreed, while 60.2% disagreed.

Lots of immigrants are voting?

In recent years, some Kansans have been concerned that some non-citizens are voting in elections. This year’s Kansas Speaks survey shows that sentiment is growing.

The survey included the statement, “Illegal immigrants are voting in Kansas elections in large numbers.” This year, 17.5% agreed, compared to 14.3% agreeing last year.

The number of people who disagreed with the statement dropped from 44.8% last year to 29.3% this year.

Too hard to vote in Kansas?

The next statement presented to the survey respondents was, “Government has made it too hard to vote here in Kansas.”

The survey shows that more people agree with that statement this year — 14.8% compared to 12% the year before.

The number of people disagreeing with that statement decreased from 56.9% last year to 47.3% this year.

Voter fraud routinely decides election winners?

If you go by the Kansas Speaks survey, a relatively significant segment of the population believes voter fraud routinely decides election winners.

This year, 13.4% of those surveyed agreed with the statement, “Voter fraud routinely decides the winners of elections here in Kansas.” That is up almost three percentage points from last year.

This year, 43.3% disagreed with the statement — a drop of more than 10 percentage points from last year’s 53.6%.

Corrupt election officials?

The final election issue in the Kansas Speaks survey indicates that 12% of Kansans do not trust election officials.

The survey presented the statement, “State and local elections officials in Kansas commit election fraud to alter our election outcomes.”

This year, 12% of those surveyed agreed with the statement, up slightly from last year’s 11.6%.

The number of people disagreeing with the statement dropped from 48.4% last year to 41.2% this year.

General election

The Kansas Speaks survey has been released two weeks before the general election. On Nov. 7, voters across Kansas will be voting on city and school leaders. Some will also decide on sales tax hikes to fund community improvements.

The difference between this election and elections for county, state and national leaders is that it is non-partisan, meaning candidates do not have to declare what party, if any, they belong to.

The Docking Institute conducts the Kansas Speaks survey to measure statewide public opinion on key issues. This year, the Wichita Journalism Collaborative — which is funded by the Wichita Community Foundation — joined the institute as a co-sponsor of the poll.

For a complete explanation of the methodology, see page 7 of the survey report.

This article was produced as part of the Wichita Journalism Collaborative, which includes KSN-TV and 10 other organizations and community groups.

This article was republished here with the permission of: KSNW-TV