October 31, 2018

Conservative Republicans are least supportive of making it easy for everyone to vote

Two-thirds of Americans (67%) say everything possible should be done to make it easy for every citizen to vote, but Republicans – especially conservative Republicans – are less likely to hold this view, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Republicans ideologically divided over making it easy for all to voteWhile Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (84%) overwhelmingly say everything possible should be done to make it easy to vote, Republicans and GOP leaners are split: Nearly half (48%) say everything possible should be done to make it easy to vote, while 51% say citizens should have to prove they want to vote by registering ahead of time.

Only about a third of conservative Republicans (36%) favor doing everything possible to make it easy to vote, compared with a majority (65%) of moderate and liberal Republicans. (A report earlier this year, based on 2017 data, found that conservatives constituted a majority – 68% – of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters; moderates and liberals made up about a third of GOP voters, or 31%.)

Among Democrats, large majorities of both liberals (89%) and conservatives and moderates (80%) say everything possible should be done to make it easy to vote. (In 2017, 52% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters described their views as conservative or moderate, while 46% identified as liberal.) 

Fewer than half of conservative Republicans favor Election Day registration, automatic registrationIn views of specific proposals about voting and elections, Republicans are ideologically divided on making registering and voting easier, as well as over whether inactive voters should be removed from voting rolls. For their part, Democrats have sharp internal differences over whether to require all voters to show a government-issued photo ID in order to vote.

Conservative Republicans stand out for their opposition to allowing people to register vote at the polls on Election Day and automatically registering all citizens to vote. Fewer than half of conservative Republicans support these steps (35% for Election Day registration, 45% for automatic registration), which receive majority support from Democrats, as well as moderate and liberal Republicans.

Conservative Republicans are also the only partisan-ideological group in which a majority (60%) favors removing people from registration lists if they have not voted recently or confirmed their registration.

And while conducting all elections by mail is not very popular among any ideological group, it draws especially little support among conservative Republicans (19%).

Perhaps the most striking difference among Democrats involves requiring all voters to have a government-issued ID. While 75% of conservative and moderate Democrats support this idea, just half of liberal Democrats favor it. This proposal is overwhelmingly favored by conservative Republicans as well as moderates and liberals in the GOP.

Topics: Political Party Affiliation, Voter Participation, Political Polarization, Voting Issues

  1. is a research assistant focusing on U.S. politics and policy at Pew Research Center.