Category Archives: voter id

“Who benefits from voter identification laws?”

Jeffrey J. Harden  and Alejandra Campos in PNAS. Abstract:

In the first two decades of the twenty-first century, many American state governments implemented voter identification (ID) laws for elections held in their states. These laws, which commonly mandate photo ID and/or require significant effort by voters lacking ID, sparked an ongoing national debate over the tension between election security and access in a democratic society. The laws’ proponents—primarily politicians in the Republican Party—claim that they prevent voter fraud, while Democratic opponents denounce the disproportionate burden they place on historically disadvantaged groups such as the poor and people of color. While these positions may reflect sincerely held beliefs, they also align with the political parties’ rational electoral strategies because the groups most likely to be disenfranchised by the laws tend to support Democratic candidates. Are these partisan views on the impact of voter ID correct? Existing research focuses on how voter ID laws affect voter turnout and fraud. But the extent to which they produce observable electoral benefits for Republican candidates and/or penalize Democrats remains an open question. We examine how voter ID impacts the parties’ electoral fortunes in races at the state level (state legislatures and governorships) and federal level (United States Congress and president) during 2003 to 2020. Our results suggest negligible average effects but with some heterogeneity over time. The first laws implemented produced a Democratic advantage, which weakened to near zero after 2012. We conclude that voter ID requirements motivate and mobilize supporters of both parties, ultimately mitigating their anticipated effects on election results.

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“Arizona voters reject effort to enact stricter voter ID law”

AP News says it is now clear that Proposition 309,  which would have imposed additional hurdles for absentee ballots and stricter voter ID requirements, has failed. The measure has fallen short by about 20,000 votes–over the recount margin.

“Arizona voters who overwhelmingly cast their ballots by mail have rejected a measure that would have required them to add more information to the simple signature and date they now put on the back of the return envelope.”

Had the measure passed, voters would have been required “to write their birthdates and add state-issued voter identification numbers, driver license or identification card numbers or a partial social security number to affidavits rather than just signing and dating them.” The back-of-envelope signature used by many counties would also have been changed to require that they be placed into a second envelope.

Meanwhile, those who lack photo IDs issued by state, tribal, or federal authorities would no longer have been able “to vote by presenting two alternate documents, such as a utility bill.”

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The Impact of Missouri’s New Voting Law

From KQTV in St. Joseph, on the bill signed last month.

HB 1878 was signed by Governor Parsons just over three weeks ago, but concerns for voter accessibility continue to grow. 

The bill introduced many procedure changes for Missouri elections that will go into effect as early as August 28th.

The elimination of mail-in ballots in just one of these changes that could prevent eligible Missouri voters from doing their civic duty of participating in elections….

Along with the elimination of mail-in ballots, another area of concern within the bill in regards to accessibility is the addition of a photo ID requirement.

“In the November general election, you will have to present a government-issued photo ID instead of [something like] a bank statement or utility bill, or just your voter ID card. You actually now have a specific voter photo ID.” says Luke Campbell, Associate Professor of Political Science at NWMSU.

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Supreme Court oral argument today on whether state legislators can intervene in North Carolina voter ID dispute

Following up on earlier ELB coverage (here and here), the SCOTUSblog page is here. Oral argument takes place today around 11 am ET. The questions presented are procedural issues, but they are the kind that keep cropping up in election litigation. From the issues the Court will consider:

Issues: (1) Whether a state agent authorized by state law to defend the state’s interest in litigation must overcome a presumption of adequate representation to intervene as of right in a case in which a state official is a defendant; (2) whether a district court’s determination of adequate representation in ruling on a motion to intervene as of right is reviewed de novo or for abuse of discretion; and (3) whether petitioners Philip Berger, the president pro tempore of the state senate, and Timothy Moore, the speaker of the state house of representatives, are entitled to intervene as of right in this litigation.

And from North Carolina coverage ahead of oral argument, WRAL and the Carolina Journal.

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5th Circuit Panel Upholds Attorneys Fees for Plaintiffs in Texas Voter ID Case, Judge Ho Concurs Separately in His Own Majority Opinion to Rail Against Earlier 5th Circuit Decision Finding Texas Voter ID Law Discriminatory

Totally gratuitous opinion not only citing fraudulent fraud squad member John Fund but also saying that Texas can’t have engaged in racial discrimination in passing a voter id law knowing of its disparate impact on minority voters because the Carter-Baker Commission in 2005 endorsed voter id requirements. It also relitigates an issue that has long been closed at the 5th Circuit after its en banc decision finding Texas’s original voter id law violated Section 2.

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“Michigan Republicans launching petition drive to require IDs for voting”

Detroit News:

Michigan Republicans unveiled Monday a petition campaign to try to impose new identification requirements for voters and go around Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to put the policies into law.

A committee called Secure MI Vote planned to turn in its proposed petition language to Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s department, the first step toward pursuing an initiative. The group wants to mandate that voters present photo ID to cast their ballots in person and those wishing to use absentee ballots submit their driver’s license number, state personal ID number or the last four digits of their Social Security number.

The ideas have been at the center of a controversial 39-bill package Senate Republicans introduced in May, and their inclusion in the initiative is likely to prompt heated debate in the battleground state that is expected to spill into the 2022 gubernatorial election.

The new petition campaign came amid GOP efforts in multiple states to change voting laws after Donald Trump’s loss in November. The Republican former president has levied unsubstantiated claims that voter fraud cost him his race against Democrat Joe Biden.

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“The Obvious Voting-Rights Solution That No Democrat Will Propose”

Russell Berman in the Alantic:

Democrats in Congress are considering a policy that was long unthinkable: a federal requirement that every American show identification before casting a ballot. But as the party tries to pass voting-rights legislation before the next election, it is ignoring a companion proposal that could ensure that a voter-ID law leaves no one behind—an idea that is as obvious as it is historically controversial. What if the government simply gave an ID card to every voting-age citizen in the country?

I proposed national voter id coupled with universal voter registration in my 2012 book, The Voting Wars. This is hardly a new idea.

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“As extremes shape voter ID debate, the rules keep getting stricter”

PolitiFact, with this bottom line:

  • Efforts to tighten identification requirements for voting, largely driven by Republicans, have been under way for about two decades, but they accelerated this year in the wake of the 2020 election.
  • While the debate over voter ID laws often seems like it’s one between two irreconcilable camps, there’s actually more nuance.
  • A wide variety of voter ID requirements and verification processes already exist, and critics of tightening voter ID laws usually don’t have a problem with these as long as there are a wide number of options and backup processes exist.
  • Meanwhile, polls show broad public support for voter ID laws, including among Democrats.
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“Photo identification laws and perceptions of electoral fraud”

Recent publication in Research & Politics:

Photo identification (ID) laws are often passed on the premise that they will prevent voter fraud and/or reduce perceptions of electoral fraud. The impact of ID laws on perceptions of electoral fraud remains unsettled and is complicated by widespread confusion about current voting requirements. In the 2017 Virginia election, we fielded an experiment, with an advocacy organization, evaluating the effects of the organization’s outreach campaign. We randomized which registered voters were mailed one of three informational postcards. After the election, we surveyed subjects about electoral integrity and their knowledge about election laws. We find that providing registrants with information on the state’s photo ID requirements is associated with a reduction in perceptions of fraud and increased knowledge about voting requirements.

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Panic setting in over new voting rules

Politico reports on the fear among Democrats and voting rights activists that getting out the vote (GOTV) will be much harder in light of the new more restrictive voting laws being adopted in states like Georgia. The article is useful because it helps explain the intensity of the opposition to these laws. And without getting into a discussion here about how unjustified (or not) these new laws are from a policy perspective, it is worth noting an analytical distinction that often gets elided in the coverage of these laws: cutbacks in voting opportunities that are retrogressive, and thus are an impediment relatively speaking to GOTV efforts, are not necessarily voter “suppression” in the strict sense of disenfranchisement (i.e., a barrier to casting a ballot and thus participating in the election). If voters have a genuine opportunity to participate but choose to abstain, they aren’t being denied the right to vote. This is true even if voter turnout efforts on the left fail to reach their target goals, or even past turnout levels. To be sure, these laws may be cynically motivated by a partisan realization that turnout rates are variable, depending on how convenient voting is; if it is less convenient, some marginal voters may not bother to cast a ballot, even though they actually have an opportunity to do so. It is certainly appropriate to condemn that kind of cynical partisanship, since it is a form of bad faith and contrary to the ideal of structuring the rules of electoral participation in the public interest (based on a nonpartisan assessment of the overall relevant policy considerations). Even so, discussion of this topic (at least in my view) ought to be careful to use terminology that recognizes the distinction between new laws that hinder participation compared to new laws that deny participation. Often, it seems that the phrase “voter suppression” or similar language is employed to make the former seem more like the latter, or at least to lump the two categories together.

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Brennan Center Updates Report

Voting Laws Roundup: July 2021. I saw this just after posting on Politfact’s caution on the need to be nuanced when characterizing these new state laws. To the Brennan Center’s credit, this July update prominently states up front: “The new laws restricting voting access are not created equal.” It goes on to explain that some of the new statutes are “mixed” and others are “narrower in scope.” Still, I might quibble with how the Brennan Center describes some of the specific measures. For example, it calls “harsher” the requirement for absentee voters to produce a numerical form of identification (like a driver’s license number) rather than to use signature-matching as the way to verify an absentee voter’s ID. I would argue, to the contrary, that an accessible form of numerical ID is actually more voter-friendly than the inherently fraught process of signature-matching. Even so, I consider it a positive development if the public discourse on these laws is becoming more detailed-oriented and less of painting with the broadest possible brush.

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