A decade ago, Indiana legislators worked hard to address an imaginary voting problem. It’s time they worked even harder to fix a real one. The Hoosier state ranks at the bottom in citizen participation in elections. This month, a mere 28 percent of the state’s voting-eligible population — a measure of people who could vote, regardless of their registration status — voted, according to early projections by the United States Election Project, based at the University of Florida. Those calculations put Indiana dead last in America in turnout. The Indiana voting system deserves most of the blame. It is true that the pathetic turnout for the 2014 election can partly be attributed to the low-profile offices at stake. Once every 12 years, the ballot features no races for president, U.S. Senate or governor. That was the case on Nov. 4. But a smaller percentage of Hoosiers cast ballots election after election, compared to residents of other states, including 2008 when Indiana turnouts peaked.
Instead of being a calendar quirk, the small slice of participants this year illuminates a larger, systemic problem. Actually, it is a bundle of problems. The voter photo ID law lurks near the core of that bundle. Statehouse Republicans enacted the ID requirement in 2005. Their publicly stated reason was to prevent voter fraud. That sounds noble, but no such problem existed here or in any of the other states with Republican-led legislatures that caught onto the idea. It was an ingenious tactic. Pretending to eradicate fraud, the ID laws in reality made it harder for two Democratic-leaning segments of the population, the poor and elderly, to vote. Voter ID laws, on average, decrease turnouts by 4 to 5 percentage points, according to Michael McDonald, the University of Florida political scientist overseeing the Elections Project.
Full Article: Voter ID laws reduce Indiana election turnout.