Friday, September 7, 2012

A few thoughts on voter ID laws

While I've covered most of my thoughts on voter identification laws, here, citing a study.  I'll try to give you three points about that post.

1. Where there are not set voter ID laws in place and you allow poll workers to ask for identifications, there has been an increase in asking for ID's in general and a larger increase in asking for ID's among African-Americans primarily.  There was an increase in asking Hispanic and white voters but nothing compares to the increase in asking African-Americans for their ID's.  The authors of the study argue that "poll workers do not administer this procedure fairly or without regard to race, which raises the important possibility that in practice voter-identification procedures violate the Voting Rights Act.”

2. Is the practice of asking for voter identification racist?  If we have a practice that seems to discriminate against a particular race, even when we control "income, education, party identification, age, region, state laws, and other factors," does it make necessarily racist?  I'm not sure if we can definitively conclude this. The reason that I do not know if we can definitively conclude this is because we simply do not know how many people were denied their rights to vote because of voter identification requests.  Most people do not even say the reason that they do not want to vote is because of the threat of voter ID requests.  It's certainly possible that since we're asking African-American and Hispanic voters for ID much more often than white voters, it is a racist practice.  But is the mere practice of asking for ID without actual disenfranchisement racist?  I'm not 100% sure.

3. Asking for voter ID's does not increase people's thoughts on the legitimacy of elections or people's propensity of voting.  “In the 2007 survey, of those who thought fraud a very common occurrence, 47% voted and of those who thought fraud rare, 44% reported voting. Controlling for education, income, partisanship, and other factors did not change this non-finding. Belief in the frequency of election fraud is uncorrelated with propensity to voting.”  Or "those voters living in states with stricter identification laws did not report higher levels of confidence or higher rates of voting than those living in states with relatively weak identification rules. In states with the weakest ID rules, 26% think fraud occurs very often and 10% think it occurs rarely. In states with the strictest ID rules, 29% think fraud occurs very often and 9% think it occurs rarely.”

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