University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers are taking up a tricky task after last Tuesday’s election: figuring out whether the presence of the state’s voter ID requirement affected who voted. The study will seek to determine what would have happened if the election had been run in a different way and voters had not been required to show an approved ID before casting their ballots — never an easy proposition for academics or anyone else. Democrats have speculated that the presence of voter ID might have been one factor contributing to the lower turnout among African-Americans and young people in Milwaukee County, but Republicans have rejected those assertions as unfounded. “That is what we are trying to determine,” said Ken Mayer, a UW-Madison political science professor who is leading the study. “Right now, I’d say the survey is designed to capture any problems that might have occurred.” Mayer has served as an expert witness for opponents of the voter ID law in past litigation of the requirement.
The researchers are working with the clerks of the state’s two largest counties on the $44,000 study, which is being largely paid for by Dane County taxpayers with some additional money from Milwaukee County.
In Wisconsin, about 66% of the state residents who are old enough to vote did so last week. That was down almost 4 percentage points from the 2012 presidential election.
In Milwaukee County, the drop was especially sharp, with nearly 60,000 fewer votes cast compared with 2012. In Dane County, about 7,000 more ballots were cast, though that was still a smaller percentage of those registered to vote in the growing county.
Full Article: UW researchers to study voter ID effect.