While a surge of unexpected Donald Trump supporters flipped some Rust Belt states red, voter suppression measures may have also contributed to a depressed Democratic turnout. Ohio and Wisconsin, which saw drops in overall voter numbers since 2012 despite working class white support for Republicans, also enacted laws restricting voters’ ability to cast ballots. A lack of enthusiasm among Democrats may be partly to blame for fewer voters in places such as Milwaukee County, though some suggest that Republican-led restrictions on voters functioned as intended. “It’s undeniable that there is an effect [from new voting laws]. The people that enact these laws know what they’re doing,” said Gerry Hebert, the director of voting rights and redistricting at the Campaign Legal Center.
Wisconsin, which went for Trump by about 30,000 votes, saw only 2.8 million votes cast this year as opposed to more than 3 million in 2012.
The state also has one of the most well-known voter ID laws, requiring photo identification to vote.
Measures like Wisconsin’s are seen as disproportionately affecting minority voters like those in Milwaukee County, where turnout was more than 50,000 votes less than it was four years ago.