New Study Debunks Right-Wing Lies, Proves Voter ID Laws Suppress Minority Votes

A study reported in The Washington Post found that voter ID laws disenfranchise minority voters disproportionately, an allegation right-wing media have dismissed while advocating for those types of laws in several states. Courts and other studies have come to the same conclusion.

Wash. Post Reports On Study Outlining How Voter ID Laws Disenfranchise Minorities

Wash. Post: Voter ID Laws “Have A Disproportionate Effect On Minorities” And “Shift Outcomes Toward ... The Right.” Three professors wrote in The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog about their study, which found that voter ID laws are correlated with “a significant drop in minority participation” in elections and that the laws “have a disproportionate effect on minorities.” In addition, the study noted that in states with strict voter ID laws, “the turnout gap between Republicans and Democrats in primary contests more than doubles from 4.3 points to 9.8 points,” meaning that “when a state has strict voter ID laws, those who do vote are more conservative.” From the February 15 article (emphasis original):

When we compare overall turnout in states with strict ID laws to turnout in states without these laws, we find no significant difference. That pattern matches with most existing studies. But when we dig deeper and look specifically at racial and ethnic minority turnout, we see a significant drop in minority participation when and where these laws are implemented.

Hispanics are affected the most: Turnout is 7.1 percentage points lower in general elections and 5.3 points lower in primaries in strict ID states than it is in other states. Strict ID laws mean lower African American, Asian American and multiracial American turnout as well. White turnout is largely unaffected.

These laws have a disproportionate effect on minorities, which is exactly what you would expect given that members of racial and ethnic minorities are less apt to have valid photo ID.


When a state has strict voter ID laws, those who do vote are more conservative

All of this, of course, has real political consequences. Because minority voters tend to be Democrats, strict voter ID laws tilt the primary electorate dramatically.

All else equal, when strict ID laws are instituted, the turnout gap between Republicans and Democrats in primary contests more than doubles from 4.3 points to 9.8 points. Likewise, the turnout gap between conservative and liberal voters more than doubles from 7.7 to 20.4 points.

By instituting strict voter ID laws, states can alter the electorate and shift outcomes toward those on the right. Where these laws are enacted, the influence of Democrats and liberals wanes and the power of Republicans grows. Unsurprisingly, these strict ID laws are passed almost exclusively by Republican legislatures. [The Washington Post, 2/15/17]

Right-Wing Media Have Long Dismissed The Idea Of Voter Disenfranchisement To Push For Voter ID Laws

Fox’s Bill O’Reilly: Voter Disenfranchisement Caused By Voter ID Laws “Is A Total Myth.” Fox host Bill O’Reilly asserted that voter disenfranchisement caused by voter ID laws is “a total myth,” adding that it’s “insane” that people wouldn’t show IDs when voting. From the September 21 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:

BILL O'REILLY (HOST): OK. Let's go to the voter registration thing, which is a total myth. Eboni. You have a situation that a little ID card, which will be sent, delivered, handed to you with a bag of M&Ms, whatever you need, is now saying that's oppressive, you can't ask for that when voting. How insane is this? [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 9/21/16]

National Review’s John Fund: Claims That “Voter ID Is A Racist Form Of Voter Suppression” Are “Baseless.” National Review’s John Fund slammed concerns that voter ID laws racially discriminate, calling them “baseless fears.” From the January 22 piece:

Which is precisely why it’s so disappointing to see Barack Obama use it to raise baseless fears that voter ID is a racist form of voter suppression. Even as he leaves office, the president who promised to unify us is continuing his level best to polarize and divide us. [National Review, 1/22/17]

O’Reilly: Voter Disenfranchisement Isn’t Real Because “Every African-American I Know Has ID.” O’Reilly dismissed the notion that strict voter ID laws disenfranchise minority voters because “every African-American I know has ID.” From the September 13 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:

BILL O’REILLY (HOST): In Ohio, there’s all kinds of stuff about people wanting to vote at the last minute. They want to vote after the election. They want to vote at 3 a.m. And if you say, “No, you can't do any of that,” then you are disenfranchising them. But they drew the line. The Supreme Court said today, Guilfoyle, that in Ohio you can't just have the week-of sign up because they have all kinds of easy ways to do it before, right?


The lower court said you can't have golden week. And the reason, I believe, is because you can't check these people that fast. So somebody can come in with fraudulent documentation on day of or the week and the state can't check it

LIS WIEHL: And also, really, Ohio -- the law in Ohio -- they’re one of the top 10 states in the country that allows for long time in advance election, you can you sign up 30 days in advance. And you can vote early.

O’REILLY: Right, but they’re very lenient on what they can do and what they can’t do.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE: So there was no evidence, no sufficient evidence, of disenfranchisement or any kind of overt action.

O’REILLY: There never has been. All of the states that say --

GUILFOYLE: And Ohio matters -- battle ground.

O’REILLY: -- you have to show an ID and people say, “Oh, no. You can’t do that. Oh, no, no, no. Then African-Americans won't" -- I'm saying to myself every African-American I know has an ID. And not only that, the states that want that will send you an ID, they’ll come to your house with the ID and ice cream. They’ll give you ice cream with the ID.

GUILFOYLE: And a ride anywhere.

O’REILLY: Right, and then they'll take you to the movies after. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 9/13/16]

WSJ’s Paul Gigot: Voter ID Laws “Had Zero Effect On Turnout.” Wall Street Journal opinion editor Paul Gigot asserted on NBC’s Meet the Press that voter ID laws have “had zero effect on turnout,” asserting that “turnout is better” under the laws. From the April 13, 2014, edition of Meet the Press:

PAUL GIGOT: If voter ID were about voter disenfranchisement, why was African-American turnout so much greater in 2012? I mean, it has had zero effect on turnout. Actually, turnout is better. [NBC, Meet the Press, 4/13/14]

Fox’s Kimberly Guilfoyle: It’s “Incorrect” That Voter ID Laws “Disenfranchise Voters.” Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle asserted that it’s “incorrect” that voter ID laws “disenfranchise voters,” because “every state where voter ID has been implemented, you have seen an increase in minority voting.” From the December 9, 2013, edition of Fox News’ The Five:

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE (CO-HOST): He says that these voter ID laws serve to disenfranchise voters. No, it’s incorrect. When you look at the facts, every state where voter ID has been implemented, you have seen an increase in minority voting. [Fox News, The Five, 12/9/13]

Fox’s Monica Crowley: Voter ID Laws Have “Nothing To Do With Disenfranchisement.” Former Fox contributor Monica Crowley defended voter ID laws, claiming they had “nothing to do with disenfranchisement.” From the August 13, 2013, edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:

MONICA CROWLEY: This is a commonsense move to try to prevent voter fraud where it happens because when you don’t have this kind of system in place, it makes voter fraud easier to carry out and less reportable. The other thing is that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld voter ID laws in 2008. So it’s completely constitutional. There is nothing wrong with something -- it is a commonsense move in the most sacred act of the republic: voting.


This has nothing to do with disenfranchisement. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 8/13/13]

Courts Have Ruled That Some Voter ID Laws Are Racially Discriminatory

Courts Have Ruled That Voter ID Laws In North Carolina, Texas, And Wisconsin Were “Racially Discriminatory.” Recently, several states have seen voter ID laws overturned by the courts for being racially discriminatory. The Atlantic reported that the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down portions of a voting law in North Carolina after the three-judge panel found that “the law was racially discriminatory.” An appeals court ruled that Texas’ voter ID law “discriminates against minority voters,” The Washington Post reported. And The Washington Post also noted that a Wisconsin voter ID law was “aimed specifically at limiting voting access in Milwaukee because of its large black population.” [The Atlantic, 7/29/16; The Washington Post, 7/20/16, 8/3/16]

Other Studies Have Confirmed The Disenfranchisement Caused By Voter ID Laws

Latin Post: Latinos And African-Americans Are Affected By Voting Restrictions “More Than Other Ethnic Groups.” The Latin Post explained why, ahead of the Wisconsin primaries, ethnic minority advocates were worried about the disenfranchising effect the state's voter ID laws could have on local Latinos and African-Americans. The article noted that those groups are affected by voting restrictions “more than other ethnic groups,” often because they lack the resources to access adequate IDs, or lack necessary information on how to acquire them. From an April 5 article:

The biggest problem with Wisconsin's stricter voter law isn't how it disproportionately affected minorities and the impoverished, or how they jump deterrent hoops for rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. The experience leaves potential voters disenfranchised.

“Our community doesn't have the information. There hasn't been a lot of information provided on how easy this is,” said Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota. “A lot of people don't know where to go.”

Some aren't aware that they already had an acceptable ID, others give up on the process altogether.


Up to 300,000 Wisconsin voters did not possess a valid ID for the 2012 presidential election, according to a study executed by University of Georgia professor M.V. Hood III. A second report found the number closer to 350,000 residents. Nearly one-third of voters live in Milwaukee County, which houses about 113,000 Latinos, or 39.5 percent of the state's Hispanic population.


Latinos are the fastest-growing voter base in the country, yet voting restrictions appear to affect them and African-Americans more than other ethnic groups. [Latin Post, 4/5/16]

ACLU: Minorities Are “Statistically Less Likely To Possess An Accepted Photo ID.” A 2012 American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report by statisticians from the research firm Latino Decisions found that eligible African-American and Latino voters in Milwaukee County, WI, “are statistically less likely to possess an accepted photo ID” than white voters, with African-Americans “182 percent less likely” and Hispanics “206 percent less likely” to have ID than white voters. From the study:

As compared to eligible White voters, African American and Latino eligible voters in Milwaukee County are statistically less likely to possess an accepted photo ID.

Eligible African American voters are 182 percent less likely to possess an accepted photo ID, than are whites. Eligible Latino voters are 206 percent less likely to possess an accepted photo ID, than are whites.

Eligible Latino voters are statistically more likely to lack any documentary proof of citizenship, as compared to whites, and therefore less likely to have the necessary underlying documents to obtain an original Wisconsin DMV product.

As compared to eligible white voters, eligible African American and Latino voters are statistically less likely to both lack an accepted photo ID, and also lack the necessary underlying documents to obtain an original Wisconsin DMV product, creating a double burden for Blacks and Latinos.

Overall 2.4 percent of eligible white voters lack an accepted photo ID, and also lack the required underlying documents to obtain an original Wisconsin DMV product. In comparison, 4.5 percent of eligible Black voters lack an accepted ID and lack the ability to obtain one, and 5.9 percent of eligible Latino voters lack an accepted ID and lack the ability to obtain one. [American Civil Liberties Union, 4/23/12]

CityLab: New Study Finds Voter ID Laws Exacerbate Gap Between White Voter Turnout And Minority Voter Turnout. CityLab reported on a University of California, San Diego study that found that “no other demographic has as much difficulty as black and brown voters under [voter ID] laws.” From a February 5 , 2016, article:

[A] trio of political scientists at the University of California San Diego say they're getting closer to the truth about the impact of voter ID laws: “For Latinos, Blacks, and multi-racial Americans there are strong signs that strict photo identification laws decrease turnout.”

This was a key finding in a new working paper from UCSD researchers Zoltan Hajnal, Nazita Lajevardi, and Lindsay Nielson, who compared voter turnout rates between states with voter ID laws and those without. According to their analysis, no other demographic has as much difficulty as black and brown voters under these laws. “The results are clear,” the researchers state plainly in the paper.

Their study shows how wide the racial gaps are in voter turnout between states with and without voter ID requirements. Looking at general election outcomes from 2008 to 2012, the researchers found that Latino turnout was 10.3 points lower in states where photo ID is necessary to vote than for Latinos in states where it is not. For primary elections, they found that states with strict photo voter ID laws depressed Latino turnout by 6.3 points compared to Latinos in non-voter ID states, and depressed African-American turnout by 1.6 points.

When looking at the voter turnout rates between whites and non-whites under voter ID laws, the guidelines continued to have a dampening effect. White voters already generally cast ballots at higher rates than Latino and black voters in most states, but that imbalance is intensified by voter ID requirements. In states where ID is not needed to vote, the gap between white and Latino turnout rates is just 5.3 percent in general elections. But that number jumps to 11.9 percent in states that do require ID. There's a 4.8 percent gap between black and white turnout in non-voter ID states compared with a 8.5 percent gap between black and white voters in voter ID states. [CityLab, 2/5/16]