A new poll finds a majority of Pennsylvanians support voting and election rules that encourage as many people to vote as possible as the Keystone State is poised to reprise its role as a key battleground state in the 2024 presidential election.

The latest Franklin & Marshall College Poll released today shows that 72% of registered voters believe the rules should motivate people to cast a ballot in elections to ensure everyone is represented. It also found that 25% said the rules should encourage only interested and informed people to vote so better decisions are made in elections.

And the statewide survey found that people want to see some rules changed.

The poll found that requiring identification to vote was one of the most popular changes registered voters would like to see enacted. It found that 73% of respondents favor the proposal with 25% opposing the measure.

Respondents also showed support for a change implemented last fall by Gov. Josh Shapiro that allowed the state to automatically register eligible Pennsylvanians to vote when they obtain or renew identification cards.

The survey found 65% favor automatic registration with 32% opposing the move.

When it comes to rules for those who vote by mail, the poll found that they would support giving election officials more time to process mailed ballots and would favor allowing county election officials to contact voters if they find mistakes on mail ballots.

In Berks County, voters who submit mail ballots without a signature or an accurate date on the return envelope have an opportunity to have their votes counted if they receive a message through the state’s SURE database informing them of the problem. But workers in the election services office do not contact voters to alert them of the issue.

The poll found that a majority of respondents support allowing county election workers to contact voters to let them know there is an error like a missing signature or date so the voter can fix the mistake. It shows that 77% favor the move while 21% oppose the measure.

Respondents also showed support for changing the law that introduced widespread mail voting to give election officials more time to open the envelopes that contain the ballots so they are prepared to begin counting on election day.

Under current law, opening the envelopes that contain mail ballots cannot start until 7 a.m. on election day. It is an issue that county commissioners and election directors statewide have asked lawmakers to address since the law was passed in 2019.

The poll found that 50% favor the changing the law to allow for more time to process mail ballots and 42% oppose the proposal.

Hot topics

The poll also asked registered voters how they feel about a handful of hot issues.

Only 2 in 5 registered voters report being satisfied with the way democracy works in the United States, although 9 in 10 said they believe democracy is preferable to any other form of government.

A total of 93% said they would choose to live in a country with fair and competitive elections where their preferred party only governed about half the time over living in a country with unfair and noncompetitive elections where their party governed all the time.

When asked if the presidential nominee of their party proposed doing things that seemed undemocratic, 34% of respondents said they would cast a ballot for the other party’s nominee instead. A total of 30% said they don’t know who they would vote for, 24% said they would not vote at all and only 12% said they would vote for their party’s nominee anyway.

The poll also asked about abortion care. It showed the majority of registered voters support some access to abortion.

A total of 54% said abortion should be legal under certain circumstances. It also found that 35% said abortion should be legal in all circumstances while just 10% said abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.

The final hot topic question was about legalizing recreational marijuana.

A total of 62% said they either definitely or probably thought the drug should be legalized for recreational use, with 39% in the definitely category. Only 34% said they probably or definitely thought it should not be legalized.

How the poll was conducted

Included in the latest Franklin & Marshall College poll is a detailed explanation of how the survey was conducted:

The survey findings presented in this release are based on the results of interviews conducted March 20-31. The interviews were conducted at the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College on behalf of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs.

The poll was designed and administered by the staff of the Center for Opinion Research. The data included in this release represent the responses of 870 registered Pennsylvania voters, including 390 Democrats, 356 Republicans and 124 independents.

The sample of registered voters was obtained from Aristotle. All sampled respondents were notified by mail about the survey. Interviews were completed over the phone and online depending on each respondent’s preference.

Survey results were weighted (age, gender, education, geography and party registration) using an algorithm to reflect the known distribution of those characteristics among state voters. Estimates for age, geography and party registration are based on active voters within the Pennsylvania Department of State’s voter registration data.

The sample error for this survey is 4 percentage points when the design effects from weighting are considered.

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