Voter ID Laws Suppress Minority Voting

Restrictive voter ID laws, along with other widespread voter suppression tactics such as voter caging, alleging voters are criminals, reduced early voting hours, reduced number of polling places and voting machines, misinformation campaigns such as incorrect voting days, times or places have disproportionally affected Democratic voters of color in numerous states across the nation. In many cases, these underhanded, and almost exclusively partisan GOP tactics, are practices which contribute to illegitimate GOP politicians taking office, minority voters being disenfranchised by the millions, and a host of regressive legislation being enacted in many red and purple states contrary to the will of the people. The GOP-written voter ID laws suppress minority voting.

“But both sides do it!” (Actually, in the post-Reagan modern era, there is nothing on the Democratic side that is even remotely close to, in deed or devious intent, what the GOP has been doing during the 21st century election cycles to retain their power amidst a shrinking base.) “It’s easy to get a voter ID. People are just lazy and then complain when they can’t vote!” “Voter fraud is rampant, with all those illegals voting and all the other Democrats voting twice using deceased voters’ names who are still on the rolls.” The fallacies and misinformation abound. And yet voter ID laws are relatively new, most having been enacted only in the last ten years or so. But the practice, and the rather draconian and prejudicial targeting of minorities under the guise of legitimate concern, is spreading quickly and by extension, unfairly impacting elections at the local, state and national level.

In February, a trio of researchers presented their new study from the University of Chicago and wrote an article on it in the Washington Post. They tackled the subject of whether this new wave of voter identification laws unfairly impact and disproportionally affect the rights of minorities in this country to vote. Their conclusion? A resounding yes, which they even included in their article’s title: “Do voter identification laws suppress minority voting? Yes. We did the research.”

Excerpts from the article:

…Scholars have been able to show that racial and ethnic minorities have less access to photo IDs, and extensive analysis reveals almost no evidence of voter fraud of the type ostensibly prevented by these laws. But determining just how many Americans are prevented from actually voting is another question altogether. The key question is not whether there could be worrisome effects from these laws, but whether clear-cut shifts in electoral participation and outcomes have actually occurred. Do voter identification laws skew the electorate in favor of one set of interests over others?


All of this, of course, has real political consequences. Because minority voters tend to be Democrats, strict voter ID laws tilt the primary electorate dramatically.

All else equal, when strict ID laws are instituted, the turnout gap between Republicans and Democrats in primary contests more than doubles from 4.3 points to 9.8 points. Likewise, the turnout gap between conservative and liberal voters more than doubles from 7.7 to 20.4 points.

By instituting strict voter ID laws, states can alter the electorate and shift outcomes toward those on the right. Where these laws are enacted, the influence of Democrats and liberals wanes and the power of Republicans grows. Unsurprisingly, these strict ID laws are passed almost exclusively by Republican legislatures.