Confirmed: Election Outcomes Not Affected by Voter ID Laws

Election-worker

Study: Contrary to Activist Propaganda, Voter ID Laws Don’t Don’t Swing Elections, and Don’t Suppress Minority Votes

Nate Cohn writes:

…The study was of Texas, and it was conducted by Stephen Ansolabehere of Harvard. It found that 608,470 registered voters lack any kind of state or federal ID after using robust matching criteria. That figure seems quite similar to other studies about voter ID, and therefore the Brennan Center contends it validates less robust studies with similar figures.

But the Texas study does not refute my article; it bolsters it. The study showed that just 4.5 percent of the state’s active registered voters lacked photo identification. That’s less than half of the 9.4 percent who lacked photo identification in that Pennsylvania study.

Part of the reason for the smaller number of voters without identification was that the study considered federal ID, not just state-issued ID. The study found that 32 percent of the registered voters without a state identification had a federal ID, like a passport. Even if this figure would be lower in states farther from the border, it strongly suggests that any analysis without consideration of federal ID will substantially overstate the number of voters without identification.

There is one place where the Brennan Center makes a fair point, though I think it depends on a miscommunication on my part that’s worth clearing up.

New Hampshire Voters Head To The Polls For State's Primary

In my original article, I wrote a paragraph that read: “Take Texas, a state with a particularly onerous voter ID law. If I register to vote as ‘Nate’ but my ID says ‘Nathan,’ I might be counted among the hundreds of thousands of registered voters without a photo ID. But I’ll be fine at the polling station on Election Day with a name that’s ‘substantially similar’ to the one on file.” The Brennan Center interprets this paragraph to mean that I would not be counted in the Texas study as lacking ID.

This was unclear. My point in invoking Texas was not to discuss Mr. Ansolabehere’s matching procedures, but to note that even a state with a stringent ID law, like Texas, would accept a name that’s “substantially similar” to the one on file. I was not disputing that there are states using these matching procedures, just trying to show the potential complications involving people who could be counted as without photo identification but could nevertheless vote in a state with a particularly strong voter ID law.

This quibble aside, the Brennan article is consistent with my own about the small chances for swinging election outcomes. It sees the Texas study as standing above its peers because of its rigorous and detailed matching procedures. But the Texas data is in line with my argument, and even if it weren’t, my broader argument would stand: Voter ID laws do not swing many elections, because people without identification do not represent a large share of registered voters; they are particularly unlikely to vote; and a share of them will vote Republican.(more)

NYTimes



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