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Widespread voter fraud in 2020 election? A lot of Utahns think so

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Slightly more than half of Utahns believe Joe Biden legitimately won the the 2020 presidential election, but more than a third believe Donald Trump legitimately won

By Dennis Romboy Jan 19, 2021, 10:00pm MST

A demonstrator carries an American flag outside the Pennsylvania Capitol on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, in Harrisburg, Pa.Julio Cortez, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Sandy resident Andrea Bartlett says it would be difficult to pull off the extensive voter fraud that President Donald Trump and his Republican supporters claimed in the 2020 election.

The 36-year-old married mother of three said she believes states’ leaders who say they looked into questions about the results and corrected errors or found no fraud.

“I don’t think elected officials purposely lie to the public, except for maybe our current president,” she said. “If there was a giant conspiracy, I don’t think the Senate would have come down to two seats in Georgia.”

Bartlett is among 49% of Utahns who don’t think there was widespread voter fraud in the November election, according to a new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll.

But 41% of Utahns say fraud was prevalent, while 10% aren’t sure.

Trump repeatedly falsely declared himself the winner and claimed that the election was “stolen” from him. His personal attorney Rudy Giuliani alleged “centralized” fraud that focused on big cities controlled by Democrats.

In the poll, political persuasion had a lot do with whether Utah voters think there was fraud.

For people who identified themselves as conservatives, the number of those who believe there was fraud swelled to 68%, and for Republicans to 65%.

Florida-based pollster Scott Rasmussen surveyed, 1,000 Utah registered voters on Jan. 12-15. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Lisa Miller, a 64-year-old retired Salina resident who voted for Trump, said she believes there was some fraud, mostly dead people voting and some people voting twice. But she believes Democrat Joe Biden is the legitimate winner of the election.

“I think Biden probably won it. But I just think there wasn’t as many votes that would have went to Trump,” she said.

Biden received 81 million popular votes, to 74 million for Trump. Biden won the Electoral College vote 306-232. The Delaware Democrat will be sworn in as the nation’s 46th president on Wednesday.

A little more than half, 53%, of Utahns say Biden legitimately won the election, while 36% of Utahns believe Trump won, according to the poll. Ten percent aren’t sure.

The number of Utah conservatives who say Trump won soared to 60%, the polls shows. Republicans weren’t far behind at 56%. Democrats were nearly unanimous in saying Biden won.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the state’s predominant religion, were almost evenly split, with 44% saying Trump won and 43% Biden. Slightly more than half of Latter-day Saints believe there was widespread election fraud.

The 36% of voters overall in Utah who think Trump was the legitimate winner is just a few points higher than the national numbers, Rasmussen said. The results, he said, were similar to the 2016 election when a third of all voters were convinced that Hillary Clinton was the legitimate winner.

Rasmussen said he suspects there is an escalation of skepticism resulting from a long string of very close elections.

No presidential candidate has received more than 53% of the vote since 1984, the longest stretch without a landslide in American history.

“Landslides are healthy for the political system in that they leave no doubt as to who won and the losers realize they need to shift their views to connect with the voters,” Rasmussen said.

Trump won Utah in 2020 with 58% of the vote, taking the state’s six electoral votes.

“Landslides are healthy for the political system in that they leave no doubt as to who won and the losers realize they need to shift their views to connect with the voters.” — Florida-based pollster Scott Rasmussen

More than 120 Republican House members and a dozen GOP senators intended to object to the electoral votes in six swing states that Trump lost before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In the end, they unsuccessfully challenged only the ballots in Arizona and Pennsylvania.

Utah GOP Reps. Chris Stewart and Burgess Owens were among those who voted against counting the Pennsylvania votes. The other four members of the state’s all-Republican delegation voted to certify all the results.

The poll shows 56% of Utahns disapprove of members of Congress who objected to confirming the electoral college votes.

“I think they made a poor choice,” Bartlett said of lawmakers who voted to object. Without any proof, she said, they encouraged people to believe the fraud could be real.

Miller said members of Congress had a right to object and that there should have been an investigation, but “it went to extremes.”

“I think they pushed it even after they found a lot of things that were correct,” she said. “I would have objected a little bit. I think they had a right to check all this stuff out, but then it needed to stop.”

The poll found 33% of Utah voters approve of lawmakers who objected to the electoral vote. That number swells to 48% among Republicans and 54% among conservatives.

The survey results reflect a deep divide that exists not only across the country but in the Republican Party, said Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah.

Republicans in Utah, including members of the state’s congressional delegation, have to walk a delicate line when it comes to voters in the state. There is a segment of the conservative end of the Republican Party that believes Trump’s claim that the election was stolen.

“That is why it is a difficult line for some of our elected officials to walk,” Perry said.

In this Nov. 6, 2020, photo, a canvas observer photographs Lehigh County provisional ballots as vote counting in the general election continued in Allentown, Pa. President Donald Trump’s campaign filed a number of lawsuits across six battleground states this month as he tried to upend the 2020 election. Judges uniformly rejected his claims of vote fraud.Mary Altaffer, Associated Press

Correction: One reference in an earlier version incorrectly stated that 53% of Utahns believe Trump legitimately won the 2020 presidential election. The correct number is 36%.

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