Most Texans really don’t care to vote. Only about 28.5 percent of eligible voters turned out for Tuesday’s election. And while apathy is often blamed for poor showings at the polls, this time around, we Texans had another factor to contend with: a new voter ID law, called by many the most stringent in the country, which calls for a government-issued photo ID. The law, passed in 2011, has been controversial, with Republicans calling it a necessary safeguard against voter fraud and Democrats and civil rights advocates calling it a punitive, unnecessary measure that unfairly targets minorities and the poor, who tend to vote Democrat. After much back and forth in the courts, the U.S. Supreme Court gave it a green light just a few days before early voting started for the election. And this rancorous issue will apparently be with us for some time. The Supreme Court’s go-ahead was not a final edict; it simply allowed the law to be enforced in this election and will most certainly be challenged.
So the question remains: Is this law, which stands to disenfranchise at least 600,000 potential voters who do not have the required ID, a reasonable tool to discourage fraud, or a cynical, unnecessary ploy to energize partisan votes? What if we told you it may be both?
Robert Stein, professor of political science at Rice University, and an expert on urban politics and public policy, shared this observation: “The research on the impact of voter ID laws on voter turnout, especially among minority, young and underrepresented voters, does not impact voter turnout,” he said. Nor is there significant evidence of voter fraud, he added. And when it is reported, “it is more likely to occur with mail-in ballots in low-turnout elections.”
Full Article: Getting out the vote – Houston Chronicle.