Last month’s Supreme Court ruling weakening the Voting Rights Act has left voting-rights advocates and Democrats fearing that a potential new wave of suppression tactics could keep poor and minority voters from the polls. Voter ID laws have topped the list of concerns, with several southern states vowing to push forward with such measures now that it’ll be harder for the federal government to stop them. But a close look at the research on how voter ID laws affect elections suggests that, from a purely political point of view, the anxiety may be misplaced: The picture is murky, but there’s no clear evidence that requiring voter ID significantly reduces turnout. And some experts say that other voting restrictions—especially those that make it harder to register and to vote early—are likely to have a bigger effect.
“The jury is still out on voter ID,” Daniel Tokaji, a law professor at Ohio State University and a leading expert on voting rights, told MSNBC. “But its impact on turnout may not be as great as some opponents fear and some proponents probably hope.”
In other words, if Republicans, confronted with a shrinking base and an increasingly non-white electorate, are pinning their hopes on voter ID as an electoral game-changer, they may wind up disappointed.
Within hours of the high court’s ruling, Texas had announced that it considered its strict voter ID law—blocked last year by a federal court under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act—to be in effect. (In fact, the state told MSNBC weeks before the decision that it would take that view should Section 5 be invalidated.) In North Carolina, the lead sponsor of a Republican-backed ID law said he’d move ahead with the effort in light of the court’s action. Similar laws in Alabama, Mississippi, and Virginia, which had been in limbo thanks to Section 5, now look set to go into effect before next year’s midterms. And that’s in addition to the states pushing strict voter ID that were never covered under Section 5, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Tennessee.
Full Article: Why voter ID won’t save the GOP — MSNBC.