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Do Washington voters trust election security? Here's how some responded

Washington voters were asked whether they trust voting by mail and whether they believe false claims about voter fraud made during the 2020 election.

SEATTLE — How secure do voters think Washington elections are?

Based on new WA Poll numbers, most voters trust Washington election officials and the state’s vote by mail system, but just how much varies by political party.

The WA Poll was commissioned by KING 5, The Seattle Times, University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public and Washington State University’s Murrow College of Communication and was conducted by SurveyUSA.

A majority of Washington voters trust their election officials, with 64% expressing high or moderate trust. Thirty-one percent of voters expressed little or no trust in elected officials, and another 5% said they aren’t sure whether they trust election officials or not.

Republicans who responded have less trust in election officials than Independents or Democrats. Half of Republicans said they have little to no trust, while 55% of Independents and 88% of Democrats have moderate or high trust in their elected officials. 

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Overall, 71% of voters trust the state’s vote by mail system. Of those who responded, 43% have a high amount of trust and 28% have moderate trust in the system.

Of the 28% of respondents who said they don’t trust the vote by mail system, 16% said they have little trust and 12% said they have no trust at all.

Broken down by party, Democrats overwhelmingly trust voting by mail in Washington. Overall, 92% of Democratic voters trust voting by mail, with 63% expressing a high amount of trust and 29% expressing a moderate amount of trust.

Republicans are more divided on whether they trust voting by mail or not. Just over half of Republicans, 53%, said they have high or moderate trust in the vote by mail system, but another 43% expressed little to no trust in voting by mail.

A higher percentage of Independents than Republicans expressed trust in the vote by mail system, with 59% saying they trust voting by mail, and 38% expressing little to no trust.

Did the 2020 election change how much people trusted the vote by mail system?

Although many false claims circulated during the 2020 election about voter fraud, they didn’t impact how a majority of Washington voters feel about the security of the vote by mail system.

Overall, 61% of voters said their level of trust remained the same.

A majority of Republicans, Democrats and Independents responded that their trust in voting by mail was not changed by the 2020 election.

Seventy-one percent of Democrats said their level of trust remained the same, along with 58% of Independents and 52% of Republicans.

More Republicans responded that their trust in the vote by mail system decreased after the 2020 election than Independents or Democrats. Forty percent of Republicans said their trust decreased, along with 28% of Independents and 8% of Democrats.

How many Washington voters believe false claims of widespread voter fraud during the 2020 election?

Over half of Washington voters believe there was no voter fraud in the 2020 election and Joe Biden truly won the presidency.

However, 18% said they believe some voter fraud claims and are unsure whether Biden actually won. Another 15% say they believe there was major voter fraud and former President Donald Trump truly won the election.

A majority of Democrats and Independents responded that they believed there was no fraud. 

Republicans were more split on whether or not fraud occurred and how much of it there was.

Twenty-two percent of Republicans who responded said they believed there was no fraud in the 2020 election, while 39% said they believed there was some fraud and another 33% said they thought there was major fraud.

Voters who responded that they believed Trump won the 2020 election were also asked about which false claims they found most compelling:

  • 70% believe that thousands of dead people voted in swing states
  • 68% believe that fraudulent ballots supporting Biden were added to vote totals
  • 63% believe that voting machines were hacked or reprogrammed to flip votes from Trump to Biden
  • 53% believe that ballots supporting Trump were destroyed by election officials
  • 51% believe states changed election rules in ways that benefitted Biden

How Secretary of State Candidates responded 

KING 5 News shared the poll results to all eight candidates for Secretary of State on next month's primary ballot. 

Washington's Secretary of State oversees elections. Here are the responses of the candidates who replied. Some were sent in by email and are quoted as they were written.

Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, a Democrat: "People have taken elections for granted for the last couple of decades and we need to do a better job of letting the public know how the ballots are received and counted and that’s one of the priorities that we’re trying to do.”

Julie Anderson, running with no party affiliation: ”The more we have a two party stronghold on our system and the louder and more extreme they get, the worse the problem gets.”

Mark Miloscia, Republican: "The way you deal with distrust, you don’t fight with them, you bring them to the table you start trying to ease their concerns. Straight out customer service 101, and find the data to either show them what they’re saying is not true or their trust is misplaced, or you fix the broken parts of the system.”                         

Keith Wagoner, Republican: "That is the crux of my campaign, restoring confidence in the system, that is so important. Without confidence in the system, voters will self-suppress."

Tamborine Borrelli, whose party preference is listed as American First (R), questioned the validity of the results, but in an email said, "People that understand what chain of custody is don’t think a mail in system is a good idea. The machines are vulnerable to hacking. No matter what anyone’s politics are, everyone should want their vote to count as cast instead of having people who control the elections choose for them."

Bob Hagglund, Republican: "I have moderate trust in the vote-by-mail system. That is because I don't think it has failed us yet, certainly not on any large scale, but has many weaknesses and vulnerabilities to fraud and sabotage. We can correct many of these problems administratively, without changing any laws, but there will always be a problem with vote by mail because there is no way to prove who is actually marking the ballots, unlike what can be done with in-person voting."

Kurtis Engle, party preference listed as Union, "OBVIOUSLY people trust Washingtons' mail ballot system. There is a $250,000 fine for each and every shenanigan. Mail fraud isn't sexy, but it has TEETH. The results of your poll indicate how many republicans are PRETENDING to doubt Washingtons' Vote. And, DUH, doubting the Vote is the republican PLAN. Consequently, I have zero interest in the results of your poll."

Marquez Tiggs who is also running for Secretary of State has not yet responded to an email request for comment.

The WA Poll was commissioned by KING 5, The Seattle Times, University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public and Washington State University’s Murrow College of Communication and was conducted by SurveyUSA. It surveyed 825 adults from July 6-10, 2022. Of those adults, 731 were registered voters. The poll represented the demographics of Washington state with 47% from the metro Seattle area, 32% from western Washington and 21% from eastern Washington.


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