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Just over half of Americans believe voting is a ‘fundamental right’ as states pass legislation tightening ballot access, Pew poll shows

A new Brennan Center analysis found that 18 GOP-controlled states have passed 30 laws with provisions that tighten voting rules midway through 2021. ...
Georgia voting
In this Nov. 3, 2020, file photo, a poll worker talks to a voter before they vote on a paper ballot on Election Day in Atlanta.

  • Just over half of Americans believe that voting is "a fundamental right," a new Pew survey shows.
  • The new poll comes as GOP-controlled states have enacted 30 laws that tighten voting access.
  • The poll revealed partisan divides over whether voting is a right or a privilege.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Just over half of Americans believe that voting is a "fundamental right" as state legislatures pass an increasing number of laws that tighten ballot access.

A Pew Research Center survey published Thursday found that 57% of Americans surveyed agreed that voting is "a fundamental right for every adult U.S. citizen and should not be restricted in any way" while 42% believed that "voting is a privilege that comes with responsibilities and can be limited if adult U.S. citizens don't meet some requirements."

The poll found notable partisan divides over whether voting is a right or a privilege: 78% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning respondents believe that voting is a "fundamental right" compared to 32% of Republican and Republican-leaning Americans. In the survey, 67% of Republicans believed voting is a privilege compared to 21% of Democrats.

The survey, conducted July 8-18, polled 10,221 Americans with a margin of error of ±1.5 percentage points.

Pew survey about voting

The poll also noted that Black, Hispanic, and Asian respondents were significantly more likely to say that voting is a fundamental right compared to White respondents. More than two-thirds of Black adults said that voting is a basic right contrasting with just about half of White survey takers.

Two-thirds of Asian respondents and 63% of Hispanic respondents also said that voting is a fundamental right.

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According to a newly-updated analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice, 18 GOP-controlled state legislatures have enacted laws with 30 provisions that they categorize as restricting voting as of July 14. These include new laws that increase barriers to voting by mail, limit ballot drop boxes, make voter identification laws stricter, and allow officials to more aggressively remove voters from the rolls in voter-list maintenance.

Many GOP-dominated legislatures have moved to add new restrictions to mail voting in particular after former President Donald Trump demonized the practice throughout 2020 and went on to try to overturn his election loss over unsubstantiated claims of mass fraud.

Meanwhile, 25 mostly Democratic-controlled states have enacted 54 laws with provisions that expand voting access, including increased early and mail voting opportunities, the analysis found.

Despite different legislative approaches to voting access, the Pew poll also revealed that 95% of both Democrats and Republicans agree that it is important that "people who are legally qualified and want to vote" are able to cast a ballot, including 82% who said it was "very important."

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