Many people have understandably blamed low turnout for the Democratic Party‘s misfortune on Nov. 4, but some have gone a step further. They argue that turnout was so low because of voter suppression, particularly laws requiring voters to present photo identification. They assert that these laws disenfranchised enough voters to decide several elections, even a Kansas governor’s contest where a Republican won by four percentage points. Voter ID laws might well be a cynical, anti-democratic attempt to disenfranchise voters to help Republicans, as Democrats claim. But that doesn’t mean that voter ID laws are an effective way to steal elections. They just don’t make a difference in anything but the closest contests, when anything and everything matters. This may come as a surprise to those who have read articles hyperventilating about the laws. Dave Weigel at Slate in 2012 said a Pennsylvania voter identification law might disenfranchise 759,000 registered voters, a possibility he described as “an apocalypse.” Pennsylvania’s voter ID law was reversed before the election, but it is not hard to see why so many thought it could be decisive when Mr. Obama won the state with a 309,840 vote margin. But the so-called margin of disenfranchisement — the number of registered voters who do not appear to have photo identification — grossly overstates the potential electoral consequences of these laws.
These figures overstate the number of voters who truly lack identification. Those without ID are particularly unlikely to vote. And many who do vote will vote Republican. In the end, the seemingly vast registration gaps dwindle, leaving enough voters to decide only elections determined by fractions of a point.
To begin with, the true number of registered voters without photo identification is usually much lower than the statistics on registered voters without identification suggest. The number of voters without photo identification is calculated by matching voter registration files with state ID databases. But perfect matching is impossible, and the effect is to overestimate the number of voters without identification.
Full Article: Why Voter ID Laws Don’t Swing Many Elections – NYTimes.com.