Voter ID Requirement Lowers Turnout
The NYT reports on a new study that shows a decline in voter turnout in states with even modest voter identification requirements.
States that imposed identification requirements on voters reduced turnout at the polls in the 2004 presidential election by about 3 percent, and by two to three times as much for minorities, new research suggests.
The study, prepared by scholars at Rutgers and Ohio State Universities for the federal Election Assistance Commission, supports concerns among voting-rights advocates that blacks and Hispanics could be disproportionately affected by ID requirements. But federal officials say more research is needed to draw firmer conclusions about the effects on future elections.
Tim Vercellotti, a professor at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University who helped conduct the study, said that in the states where voters were required to sign their names or present identifying documents like utility bills, blacks were 5.7 percent less likely to vote than in states where voters simply had to say their names. Dr. Vercellotti said Hispanics appeared to be 10 percent less likely to vote under those requirements, while the combined rate for people of all races was 2.7 percent.
Only two states, Indiana and Florida, now require all voters to show photo ID, and voters without it are allowed to cast only provisional ballots. Indiana officials have said voter turnout increased by 2 percent last November, compared with the 2002 midterm election, despite the enactment of a photo ID law in 2005. Three states — Hawaii, Louisiana and South Dakota — require voters without photo ID to sign affidavits to cast regular ballots. Photo ID laws in Missouri and Georgia have been struck down in court, and several states are considering similar measures.
Americans have to have identification to drive, fly on airplanes, buy cigarettes or alcohol, or even see movies that use the F-word. Surely, it’s not unreasonable to require people prove they are eligible to vote.
Further, the study doesn’t seem to address a rather obvious question: What has been the impact on voter fraud? How much of the 2.7 percent reduction consists of people who weren’t eligible to vote in the previous election but did anyway?