Poll: Most Pa. voters ‘dissatisfied’ with state’s election system | Friday Morning Coffee

Nearly two-thirds of Republican respondents (64 percent) said they supported eliminating ballot drop boxes

May 6, 2022 7:13 am

(Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

(*This story was updated at 7:40 a.m. on Friday 5/6/22 to clarify its headline)

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

More than two years of Republican attacks on the legitimacy on the state and the nation’s electoral system appears to have taken its toll, with more than half of Pennsylvanians saying they’re dissatisfied with the way the state conducts its elections.

The 52 percent of respondents to a new Franklin & Marshall College poll who expressed that dissatisfaction are double the 24 percent who gave the same answer in August 2020 — three months before former President Donald Trump launched baseless attacks on the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s victory in November 2020.

The responses F&M’s pollsters gleaned from 792 registered voters (357 Democrats, 352 Republicans, and 110 independents) in the Keystone State are reflective of the broader argument over voting rights taking place at the national level.

F&M Poll result
(Source: Franklin & Marshall College poll)

That dissatisfaction runs heaviest among Republicans, with 72 percent of self-identified GOP voters saying they’re somewhat or very dissatisfied with the current system.

Conversely, 66 percent of Democratic respondents say they’re happy with the current system, according to the poll. A majority of independents, 57 percent, said they were dissatisfied with the current system.

The loudest calls for change among the dissatisfied were for voter identification requirements (26 percent) and the elimination of mail-in ballots (19 percent), according to the poll, which had a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

Nearly two-thirds of Republican respondents (64 percent) said they supported eliminating ballot drop boxes. All are policy goals that have been sought by the state Legislature’s Republican majority since the last presidential election. A majority of all respondents, however, (54 percent) opposed eliminating them.

F&M Poll result 2
(Source: Franklin & Marshall College poll)

Elsewhere, the poll found broad-based support (64 percent) for opening up the state’s primary elections to all Pennsylvania voters. Right now, the spring contests only are open to registered Republicans and Democrats.

That’s left independents and third-party voters in much the same position as Cleveland Browns fans: Unless something truly miraculous happens, they’re sitting at home watching the Big Game on TV. But, as we noted in this space on Monday, there are efforts afoot to change that.

In other reform matters, a clear majority of respondents 54 percent, also support a top-two system that would result in a runoff.

That’s about the same number of voters who responded the same way to both questions when pollsters checked in on this question in August 2020.

And before our Republican legislative readers start getting too pleased with themselves, there’s still a bit of ‘a plague on both your houses‘ news in the poll.

Nearly nine in 10 respondents (89 percent) said they favor term limits for state lawmakers. And less than one in five (18 percent) believe the 253-member General Assembly, among the nation’s largest and most expensive, is doing an ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ job, according to the poll.

Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, speaks with attendees on the Capitol steps of a rally for gun rights on September 29, 2020. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

Finally, with less than two weeks to go before the polls open (and even as voters return those mail-in ballots Republicans are trying so hard to kill off), the GOP nominating race for governor remains wide open.

Among the top tier, state Sen. Doug Mastriano , R-Franklin (20 percent); former federal prosecutor Bill McSwain (12 percent); former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta (11 percent) and ex-Delaware County Councilmember Dave White (8 percent) all are running within the margin, or close to it.

Still, nearly a third of respondents 34 percent are undecided (or, if past is prologue, just didn’t want to tell pollsters). And even among those who have settled on a candidate, 53 percent said they could change their minds.

“The Republican gubernatorial candidates are relatively unknown among registered Republicans, with about half of respondents reporting they don’t know enough about White (59 percent), McSwain (54 percent), Mastriano (51 percent), or Barletta (47 percent) to have an opinion,” according to the poll.

Mastriano, who’s spread baseless claims of election fraud, has an edge among Trump-leaning Republicans, while McSwain and White lay claim to more traditional GOP voters, according to the poll.

Members of the Parent Panel Advisory Council meet with DDAP officials Wednesday, 5/4/22 in Harrisburg (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller).

Our Stuff.
While her time in office may be limited, Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jen Smith said making sure there are no disruptions to services leading up to the transition to a new administration is a top priority, Cassie Miller reports.

About 800 Lancaster County residents rallied at the courthouse in Lancaster city on Wednesday night to call on U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., to help pass legislation that would codify abortion rights into law, Correspondent Lauren Manelius reports.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, a leading GOP candidate for governor, wrote in a 2002 academic paper that the U.S. should “not hesitate” to strike at locals if a military regime is nearby, describing the U.S. military’s “hypersensitivity” to civilian deaths as an “enormous weakness,” our partners at City & State Pa. report.

En la Estrella-Capital: Gasto en la recreación al aire libre en Pa. ve un impulso en el 2020. Y el panel del 6 de enero le pide a tres miembros Republicanos de la Cámara de Representantes de Estados Unidos que cooperen en la investigación.

On our Commentary Page: Supporting local election officials will help protect our democracy, two Pennsylvania advocates write. And being a woman in the 21st century United States often feels like an exercise in futilityKate Queram, of our parent organization, States Newsroom, writes this morning.

(c) Scott Van Blarcom –

If you’re voting by mail in the 2022 primary, send it as soon as you can, the Inquirer reports.

Former President Donald Trump will rally for GOP U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz tonight in Westmoreland County, the Post-Gazette reports.

Oz, GOP Senate rival David McCormick, and Democrat John Fetterman continue to lead the ‘money primary,’ PennLive reports.

GOP governor candidate Doug Mastriano stormed out of a podcast interview after being asked about his appearance at an event linked to QAnonPoliticsPa reports.

Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman says she’s concerned about voter intimidation during the May 17 primary, the York Daily Record reports.

The state American Civil Liberties Union and disability advocates have called on Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin to drop a plan to have county detectives monitor drop boxes, the Morning Call reports.

Luzerne County Board of Elections member Alyssa Fusaro won’t  campaign for any candidate ahead of the primary, the Citizens’ Voice reports.

Delaware’s state House has voted to legalize recreational marijuana, WHYY-FM reports. Your move, Pennsylvania.

Eighteen states have made cocktails to go permanent — your move again, Pennsylvania. has the story.

A new video has shed light on the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse in Pittsburgh earlier this year, the Associated Press reports.

GoErie answers readers’ questions about voting in the May 17 primary.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:


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What Goes On
The desk is clear. Enjoy the silence.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition)
Helping you plan ahead, Senate Appropriations Committee Chaiperson Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, holds a 5:30 p.m. reception on Saturday at Vault 634 on Hamilton St. in Allentown. Admission runs $200 to $5,000.

Gov. Tom Wolf heads to Hershey for an 8:45 a.m. newser to tout his administration’s workforce development efforts.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to reader Aja Beech, of Philadelphia, and to Brittany Crampsie, most recently of Pennsylvania Senate Democrats, both of whom celebrate today. Congratulations and enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation
We’ll go out this week with an absolute tune from Lizzo. Because it’s Friday and because it’s ‘About Damn Time.

Friday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link
The Baltimore Orioles got past the Minnesota Twins 5-3 on Thursday night. The Os nabbed the win with five solo home runs.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.