The left’s argument against voter ID laws has always seemed like their argument that Trump won via Russian collusion or because his supporters are all racist Nazis – like a feeble attempt to avoid confronting the reality that a majority of American voters reject failed leftist policies. For some people, it’s easier and more comforting to blame your own failings on there being something fundamentally wrong with everyone else than to consider that the fault might lie in yourself.
So when Republicans propose simple measures to insure that elections are legitimate, such as asking voters to show ID (one of many types that are free and easily available), the cry always goes up that they are trying to suppress the minority vote. This is predicated on the offensively racist premise that minorities are somehow unable to attain an ID. And it flies in the face of polls showing that large majorities of minority voters also favor voter ID laws.
This argument against voter ID laws has gone on for so long that two economics professors from Harvard and the University of Bologna decided to test it scientifically in a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. They looked at ten states with voter ID laws and used statistics from Catalyst, a research firm that provides data to progressive groups and academics. The sample size was massive, over 50,000 people, both registered and unregistered to vote, along with demographic info on each voter. Here’s what they found:
“Strict ID laws have no significant negative effect on registration or turnout, overall or for any subgroup defined by age, gender, race, or party affiliation…Most importantly,” strict voter ID laws “do not decrease the participation of ethnic minorities relative to whites. The laws’ overall effects remain close to zero and non-significant, whether the election is a midterm or presidential election, and whether the laws are the more restrictive type that stipulate photo IDs.”
However, proponents of voter ID laws should note that the researchers also found virtually no difference in the amount of voter fraud before and after they were implemented. They suggested more effective measures for fighting fraud might be considered. But that could just mean they were implemented in places where there wasn’t as much voter fraud to begin with. And it doesn’t take millions of fraudulent votes to swing the balance of power; just a handful targeted in the right districts can do it.
Perhaps the most important effect of voter ID laws would be in discouraging anyone from trying to pull any vote fraud, and in giving Americans the peace of mind of knowing that the election results were trustworthy and their voice wasn’t canceled out by a fraudulent vote. The most important effect of this study should be to put to bed the notion that simply asking for the same ID anyone has to show to cash a check or get on a plane or into a government building somehow imposes an impossible, racist burden when it comes to protecting the integrity of the most important civic duty any American can perform.
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