Nate Cohn for NYT’s The UpShot:
Last week, I wrote an article arguing that voter ID laws don’t swing many elections.
This week, the Brennan Center for Justice says I have it “wrong” on voter ID. Yet, oddly, it’s hard to find a place we disagree.
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 considers the Texas study stands 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.