We heard Donald Trump saying the US voting system is rigged, we heard Bernie Sanders criticizing closed elections. Now a new poll shows that more than half of US voters believe the system to pick their president is “rigged.”
The poll, conducted by Reuters and Ipsos, found that some 51 percent of voters believe the primary system is rigged against certain candidates. Some 71 percent said they would prefer to pick their party’s presidential nominee with a direct vote, cutting out the use of delegates as intermediaries.
The survey also found that 27 percent of likely voters do not understand how the primary process works, and 44 percent do not understand why delegates are involved at all.
Nearly half said they would prefer a single-day primary in which all states held their nominating contests together, as opposed to the current system which draws the process out for months.
The responses were about the same for both Republicans and Democrats.
The poll surveyed 1,582 Americans in an online survey from April 21 to 26. It has a credibility interval of 2.9 percentage points.
Although the US is one of the countries that gives voters a say on who should make it onto the presidential ballot, according to Reuters the process isn’t as straightforward as it seems. The complexity lies in the use of delegates – party members who are assigned to support candidates at their conventions, usually based on voting results.
The individual parties decide how delegates are awarded in each state, with Democrats and Republicans having different rules. And when the race is too close to call, the delegates’ personal opinions can come into play – much to the dismay of voters seeking a simpler system.
Another controversial element to the system is that each state has different rules about whether voters must be registered as party members to participate. In some states, parties restrict delegate selection to small committees of party elites, which the Republican Party in Colorado did this year.
The poll results come after similar complaints from presidential candidates Donald Trump (R) and Bernie Sanders (D), who have argued that the odds are against them because they lack close ties to their parties.
Trump has called the system undemocratic, and lashed out in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece after Colorado’s Republican Party awarded all of its delegates to challenger Ted Cruz. “The system is being rigged by party operatives with ‘double-agent’ delegates who reject the decision of voters,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, Sanders has voiced his disapproval of the Democratic Party’s use of superdelegates – elite party members who can support whomever they like at the convention, and who are overwhelmingly supporting Hillary Clinton this year.
Sanders has also criticized primaries which were open only to registered Democrats, stating that “independents have lost their right to vote.” The New York primary, which took place earlier this month, was hotly-contested as it did not allow independents or unaffiliated voters to participate.
However, claims of injustice from Trump and Sanders have been squashed by those who disagree with their arguments. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has dismissed Trump’s complaints as “rhetoric,” saying the rules will not be changed before the Republican convention in July. Meanwhile, Clinton has pointed out that she is not only beating Sanders in pledged delegates, but also in total votes cast.