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Poll: Half of Americans think Congress is corrupt

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Half of all Americans believe most members of Congress are corrupt -- a figure that has risen 12 points since the start of the year -- and more than a third think their own representative is crooked, according to a new poll released Thursday by CNN.

According to the poll, a majority disapproves of how both parties are handling their jobs in Congress. Just 42 percent approve of how the Democrats are doing in Congress, while 54 percent disapprove. The GOP fares even worse -- only 36 percent approve of their performance in Congress, while 61 percent disapprove.

Pollsters from Opinion Research Corp. interviewed 1,012 Americans from Friday through Sunday. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. (Read the complete poll results -- PDF)

In January, 22 percent of those polled said they believed their own member of Congress was corrupt, a number that has jumped to 36 percent since then.

In that 10-month period, voters have seen a number of members of Congress accused of questionable behavior.

  • Mark Foley, a Republican representative from Florida, resigned last month after details became public of alleged sexually explicit instant messages to teenage boys who had served as Capitol Hill pages.
  • The House ethics committee is investigation whether Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, House leaders or their staff covered up of Foley's messages to the pages. (Watch what poll respondents say about Foley and Hastert -- 1:35)
  • Ohio Rep. Bob Ney pleaded guilty Friday in the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling investigation. He acknowledged taking trips, tickets, meals and campaign donations from Abramoff in return for official actions on behalf of his clients.
  • In May, the FBI searched the offices of Rep. William Jefferson, D-Louisiana, probing allegations he accepted bribes in return for using his office to facilitate business ventures in Africa. Jefferson has denied any wrongdoing.
  • Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas announced his resignation in April in hopes the move would keep his Houston-area district in GOP hands while he battles state money-laundering charges.
  • The dismal ratings come almost three weeks before midterm elections will give voters a chance to either change the face of the legislative body or leave it the way it is.

    But Americans are squeamish about electronic voting machines as they prepare to head for the polls. Sixty-one percent say they expect inaccurate results because of technical glitches, while two-thirds say it is likely that hackers or political operatives will prevent the machines from producing an accurate count.

    Asked how confident they are that their own vote will be counted accurately, 44 percent of poll respondents said they were very confident and 36 percent said they were somewhat confident.

    But looking at the nation as a whole, only 31 percent of respondents said they had complete confidence in an accurate vote count, along with 47 percent who said they were somewhat confident.

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