Researchers from the University of California San Diego have created a new statistical model indicating that voter identification laws do what detractors claim — reduce turnout for minorities and those on the political left. Overall, the researchers found, strict ID laws cause a reduction in Democratic turnout by 8.8 percentage points, compared to a reduction of 3.6 percentage points for Republicans. The study focused on the 11 states with the strictest voter ID laws, generally requiring photo identification to cast a ballot. Researchers used a large voter survey database to compare turnout in those states to those in states with lesser or no ID requirements. Several states have passed less strict ID laws. But in 17 states including California, New York and Illinois, a more traditional honor system still applies at the ballot box.
The ID requirements have been pushed by groups who say they want to protect the integrity of the ballot box, but critics say fraud is minimal and the real motivation is to suppress minority and liberal voters.
The report by Prof. Zoltan Hajnal, a UCSD political scientist, sheds no light on the motivations of lawmakers passing such requirements, but does indicate the laws have an effect on turnout.
“The analysis shows that strict identification laws have a differentially negative impact on the turnout of Hispanics, Blacks, Asian-Americans, and multi-racial Americans in primaries and general elections,” the report says. “We also find that voter ID laws skew democracy toward those on the political right.”