Study Finds No Evidence That Voter ID Suppresses Minority Voters


A new study in State Politics and Policy Quarterly by researchers from the University of Georgia indicates that while the state’s requirement for identification as a prerequisite for voting did result in reducing votes from a tiny fraction of voters who didn’t have valid ID’s, there’s no evidence that the law impacted minority voters specifically.

From the study (via Ronald Bailey):

Voter identification (ID) policies, especially those of the photo ID variety, have been hotly contested over the last few years. The primary concern surrounding these statutes amounts to lower turnout, especially among certain groups in the electorate, such as racial/ethnic minorities. In 2007, the way was cleared for Georgia to implement a new statute requiring registrants to present a government-issued photo ID to vote. Using population data on registrants from two election cycles coupled with information on a subgroup of registrants known to lack photo ID, we conduct a policy impact analysis of the Georgia voter ID law. We find that the new law did produce a suppression effect among those registrants lacking proper ID. Substantively, the law lowered turnout by about four-tenths of a percentage point in 2008. However, we find no empirical evidence to suggest that there is a racial or ethnic component to this suppression effect.

“Four-tenths of a percentage point,” sounds like a small price to pay for a more secure ballot box.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • SigFan

    If I can find the source for it I will link to it later, but I believe that I heard that in Georgia after implementation of voter ID minority turnout actually went up. So the .4% drop wasn’t minorities at all. What voter ID does suppress is fraudulent voters – which is exactly why Democrats are so vehemently opposed to it.

    • Tim Heise

      It is true. I think it was 3% increase above the national increase in minority voting. John Fund and Hans von Spokovky’s book entintied “Who’s Counting” has the reference.
      Georgia Sec of State Letter to the Editor, Washington Post, 25 June 2011 also has it.

      • SigFan

        Thanks for the reference Tim – I knew I had heard it but couldn’t remember the source.

  • Robert Portly

    Rob Port missed the story about the right wing billboards going up in poor neighborhoods. No one would admit to funding the ads. If Republicans don’t think it works, then why do they do it? In Pennsylvania the Republican senator admitted they were counting on voter suppression. If Republicans don’t think it works then why do they fight so hard to keep the working class from voting. This whole argument defeats itself. Everyone knows voter fraud is a non issue, so the only reason to promote this crap is voter suppression. You sure as hell don’t see Republicans in poor areas urging people to vote.

    • Gern Blanston


    • alanstorm

      “In Pennsylvania the Republican senator admitted they were counting on voter suppression.”

      You are incorrect. They were counting on suppressing ILLEGAL voting, which is something Democrats depend on.

      “Everyone knows voter fraud is a non issue, so the only reason to promote this crap is voter suppression.”

      Textbook example of GIGO. Faulty premise leads to faulty conclusion.

      • mikemc1970

        No one does garbage out like Emil.

    • jl

      Emily, show us where the law says “right wing billboards” (wtf?) can be put up in some places and not in others. It’s left wing polcies that are keeping the poor in those neighborhoods, anyway.

  • Jay

    Wow! A whole .4% decrease in voting thanks to ID laws. As Joseph Conrad famously wrote in Heart of Darkness, “The horror! The horror!” Idiot lefties.

  • Rick Olson

    North Dakota has had a Voter ID law for many years, and no one has beaten a path to the nearest federal courthouse to try and get it declared unconstitutional. In fact, North Dakota’s election system has passed muster with the U.S. Department of Justice on a number of occasions. The justice department could not find fault with our system of elections here. North Dakota has a history of conducting squeaky-clean elections.

    • Game

      You do not have to have a government issued photo ID to vote in ND. You can use any ID that has your address on it, a copy of a recent utility bill, a poll worker can vouch for you, or you can sign a voter affidavit stating how you are.
      It is a great system that works, and we don’t need to change it.

      • Rick Olson

        Coupled with the fact that North Dakota is the only state in the entire country which does not require voter registration, I would have to say that we have one of the most, if not the most, loosely structured elections systems in the entire country. Yet, when’s the last time you’ve heard even the remotest of allegations of voter fraud taking place in North Dakota?

        As far as the government issued photo ID goes, it is strongly recommended that you bring your drivers license, or another government-issued ID. to the polls with you when you vote (other acceptable forms of ID include: state-issued non-driver identification card, military ID card, passport, visa, etc).

        Additionally, you are correct that a poll worker can vouch for a voter, that an individual can sign a voter affidavit, declaring who they are and that they meet the minimum requirements for being an “elector” (voter) in North Dakota, and you may also use an ID that has your address on it.

  • mikemc1970

    It is the voter fraud, that voter ID laws prevent, that liberals truly believe is racist. Because it is social justice to allow black people vote as many times as they can. If you’re against social justice then you are racist.

    • JustRuss

      Not just black people, oh it might have started off that way but latinos and undocumented workers are just as important if not more so. Especially as the “white man” becomes the new minority in the next decade or so.

  • matthew_bosch

    The obtaining a
    government issued ID is an unofficial test of responsible citizenry.

  • banjo kid

    It just turns their apple cart over and they can’t make the id’s as well as a phoney ballot . it would cause the minorities to learn a new skill . and all that paper work and photo taking whew .

  • Proof

    And there is nothing to say that .4 % is permanent either. Folks have two to four years to remedy the situation

  • WOOF

    .4% of Ga voters is 30,000 voters..

    ‘Charles S. Bullock III, the Richard B. Russell Professor of Political
    Science at the University of Georgia who said that the state’s voter ID
    law “is not a cause” for the increase in minority voter turnout and
    “that you can’t build a case for a causal link” between the
    implementation of the voter ID law and the increase in minority voter
    turnout. In fact, voter turnout would have increased in Georgia in the
    2008 presidential election with or without the voter ID law for a number
    of other factors, says Lubbock, including a “gradual increase” in the
    voting-age population of African Americans, and also the excitement
    around the possible election of the nation’s first black president. But
    this does not mean that everyone was able to “easily” get an ID card

  • Game

    I don’t understand why Rob cares about this issue. According to him, we should not have more drunk driver laws or anti-texting laws, because the facts show that we don’t need such laws.

    However, despite the fact that there is almost now voter fraud in our states. I looked at North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota. How many cases of voter fraud did they have in the last election? 13 total.

    So despite the fact that there is no proof of voter fraud, we should change the law.
    By the way, living in Western North Dakota, I meet people every day who do not have a photo ID with their current address on it. Many of these people are likely to vote Republican. Many can because of the ND Voter ID laws.
    We don’t need voter ID laws.

    • Rob

      The difference is that we have reliable data for vehicle crashes and fatalities, and we do a pretty good job of attributing it to cause.

      What we don’t have, in the world of vote fraud, are any convincing efforts by election officials to detect voter fraud. We don’t know how much voter fraud is happening because we don’t do much of anything to find it.

      And isn’t it you Democrats who are worried about voter fraud in western ND right now? I hear the Heitkamp campaign carping about the effort to get out the oil worker vote. Shouldn’t you be glad we have voter Id in this state?

      • Game

        I said above that I know many people who do not have a current photo ID who I know are going to vote. Many will vote for republicans. I don’t care. We don’t need to force people to get a goverment approvced ID to vote. The system we have works.

  • El Natan

    realy gret news. im happy join here.


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