Laws requiring voters to show identification when they cast a ballot impact have a greater impact on African Americans and younger voters than on other racial and age groups, according to a new analysis. The report, issued Wednesday by the General Accounting Office [pdf], found that fewer African Americans have the types of identification — like a driver’s license or state-issued identification card — required to obtain a ballot than whites. As a consequence, turnout among African American voters fell by a larger percent than turnout among white voters in two states that implemented identification requirements between 2008 and 2012. Black turnout dropped by 3.7 percentage points more than white turnout in Kansas, and by 1.5 percentage points more than whites in Tennessee after voter ID laws passed. Among 18 year olds, turnout dropped by 7.1 percentage points more in Kansas than it did among those aged 44 to 53 year-olds in Kansas. Turnout in Tennessee fell by 1.2 percentage points more among those aged 19 to 23 than among the older set.
… Studies the GAO analyzed found a significant number of voters across racial and age groups — between 5 and 20 percent — do not have identifications required to get a ballot, and minorities are disproportionately likely to lack those documents. One study found that only 79 percent of African Americans in Texas have a driver’s license, state-issued ID card or a gun permit, compared with 89 percent of whites. In Wisconsin, another study found 94 percent of eligible white voters had an identification, versus 85 percent of registered African Americans.
… Other studies of whether voter identification laws have an impact on turnout have come to mixed conclusions. Some have found no impact, while others have concluded identification laws decrease turnout by between 1 and 4 percentage points.