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53% Support Automatic Drug Testing For Welfare Applicants

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Florida and Missouri have already passed measures that require some form of drug testing during the welfare application process, with Florida now requiring all applicants to be tested. A majority of voters nationwide agree with automatically testing all welfare applicants for illegal drug use.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters shows that 53% believe all welfare applicants should be tested for illegal drug use before receiving benefits. Only 13% support randomly drug testing applicants, while 29% believe applicants should only be tested if there is a reasonable suspicion that they are using illegal drugs. (To see survey question wording, click here.) 

Governor Rick Scott of Florida  signed legislation, which took effect on July 1, 2011, requiring adults applying for welfare assistance to undergo drug screening. He defended the law saying that it is “unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction”.

But when it comes to those already receiving benefits, voters are more divided on the approach. A slight plurality (35%) believes recipients should only be tested when there is a reasonable suspicion of drug use. Thirty-one percent (31%) support random drug testing for welfare recipients, while 29% believe all recipients should be tested regularly.

A strong majority (70%) believes welfare recipients whoare found to be using illegal drugs should have their benefits cut off. Fifteen percent (15%) are opposed to taking away benefits in this case while another 15% are undecided.

Of those who agree with ending benefits for illegal druguse, 58% say recipients who test positive for illegal drugs should lose their benefits on the first offense. Forty percent (40%) believe there should be one or more warnings before the benefits are cut off.

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The national survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on July 18-19, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points witha 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.


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