Editor’s note: This story is being re-published with permission from The Wichita Eagle through the Wichita Journalism Collaborative.
As Kansans prepare to decide a razor-thin governor’s race and other key contests up and down the midterm ballot, a weighted survey analysis from Fort Hays State University says 69.1% of adult residents have faith in the integrity of Kansas elections.
More than two-thirds of Kansans trust the outcome of state elections, the study found, despite the election denialism that has taken root across the country in the two years since Donald Trump refused to concede the 2020 election to Joe Biden.
The Kansas Speaks public opinion survey, published annually by the Docking Institute of Public Affairs, considered responses from 520 Kansans, weighted by age, education, race and political orientation to mirror the demographics of the state. The Docking Institute contracted with QualtricsXM to select a representative sample of Kansans, who were asked to respond to 47 multiple choice questions on a range of topics in September and October.
“We are confident that we have a pretty good representation of what the whole set of adult Kansans would say if we could survey everybody in the adult population,” said Brett Zollinger, sociology chair at FHSU and director of the Docking Institute.
The survey found that 7.6% of adult Kansans don’t trust that the reported winners of state elections are actually the candidates who earn the most votes. Another 19.2% are neutral on the issue.
According to Kansas Speaks, 48.1% of adult residents think fraud is “generally not a problem” in Kansas elections while 16.1% say it is a problem and the remainder are unsure or neutral on the issue. Just 11.6% think state and local election officials in Kansas commit election fraud to alter election outcomes, while 48.4% disagree.
“That’s the general trend in the last two years. People are generally more confident in local elections and Kansas elections, less confident with national elections,” said Jian Sun, assistant director of the Docking Institute. The Kansas Speaks survey did not ask respondents about their confidence in federal elections.
According to an analysis from FiveThirtyEight, 60% of Americans’ ballots this fall will feature at least one candidate who denies the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
As Kansas attorney general, Derek Schmidt joined a post-election lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to challenge election procedures in four key swing states that went for Biden. Schmidt, now the Republican nominee for governor, and Kris Kobach, the GOP nominee to replace Schmidt as attorney general, did not respond to The Eagle’s candidate questionnaire. All major-party candidates in statewide races who responded said they accepted Joe Biden as the legitimate winner of the 2020 election.
The survey also asked for Kansans’ opinions on ballot drop boxes, which are central to numerous election fraud conspiracy theories despite assurances from Republican Secretary of State Scott Schwab that they are secure.
According to the survey, 30.5% of Kansans say drop boxes should be banned while 45.4% say they should remain legal.
Last week, a federal judge in Kansas City threw out a lawsuit attempting to stop the use of ballot drop boxes and electronic voting machines in the 2022 midterm elections.
Early voting in Sedgwick County began Monday and runs through Nov. 7.
This story was published as part of the Wichita Journalism Collaborative, a partnership of 10 media partners, including The Eagle. This year, the collaborative, with funding support from the Wichita Community Foundation, joined the Docking Institute as a co-sponsor of the poll.