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.
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.