Do voter ID laws reduce voter turnout among eligible minority voters?

Last updated: February 20, 2022
There is no consensus in the literature on this question. We encourage you to read the study summaries below or the studies themselves if you have access.
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Chart summary of 10 studies examining this question

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SUMMARIES OF STUDIES
Total studies in list: 10
Sorted by publication year
1
Much Ado About Nothing? An Empirical Assessment of the Georgia Voter Identification Statute
"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."
AUTHOR
M. V. Hood III
PUBLISHED
2021 State Politics & Policy Quarterly
High Quality Source
No
No
2
Strict Id Laws Don’t Stop Voters: Evidence from a U.S. Nationwide Panel, 2008–2018
"U.S. states increasingly require identification to vote—an ostensible attempt to deter fraud that prompts complaints of selective disenfranchisement. Using a difference-in-differences design on a panel data set with 1.6 billion observations, 2008–2018, we find that the laws have no negative effect on registration or turnout, overall or for any group defined by race, gender, age, or party affiliation. These results hold through a large number of specifications. Our most demanding specification controls for state, year, and voter fixed effects, along with state and voter time-varying controls. Based on this specification, we obtain point estimates of −0.1 percentage points for effects both on overall registration and turnout (with 95% confidence intervals of [−2.3; 2.1 percentage points] and [−3.0; 2.8 percentage points], respectively), and +1.4 percentage points for the effect on the turnout of nonwhite voters relative to whites (with a 95% confidence interval of [−0.5; 3.2 percentage points]). The lack of negative impact on voter turnout cannot be attributed to voters’ reaction against the laws, measured by campaign contributions and self-reported political engagement. However, the likelihood that nonwhite voters were contacted by a campaign increases by 4.7 percentage points, suggesting that parties’ mobilization might have offset modest effects of the laws on the participation of ethnic minorities. Finally, strict ID requirements have no effect on fraud, actual or perceived. Overall, our findings suggest that efforts to improve elections may be better directed at other reforms."
AUTHOR
Enrico Cantoni
PUBLISHED
2021 The Quarterly Journal of Economics
No
No
3
The Suppressive Impacts of Voter Identification Requirements
"Political observers argue that the United States is in a contemporary era of voter suppression. We study one mechanism that may limit voter participation, the requirement to show identification documents at the polls—voter ID policy. Voting rights advocates have raised concerns about disparate impacts of voter restrictions on racial minorities. However, past studies have reported conflicting results. Analyzing nationally representative data from the Current Population Survey across nine election years, we show that voter ID policies, and especially “strict photo ID policies,” have a suppressive effect on participation. Voter ID requirements can reduce the probability of self-reported voting by as much as four percentage points, enough to swing a national election. While we found suppressive effects of ID policies for all racial groups, we show that Latino citizens face disproportionately negative suppressive effects of strict ID policies."
AUTHOR
Jennifer Darrah-Okike
PUBLISHED
2020 Sociological Perspectives
High Quality Source
Yes
Yes
4
A disproportionate burden: strict voter identification laws and minority turnout
"Critics of the recent proliferation of strict photo identification laws claim these laws impose a disproportionate burden on racial minorities. Yet, empirical studies of the impact of these laws on minority turnout have reached decidedly mixed results. State and federal courts have responded by offering mixed opinions about the legality of these laws. We offer a more rigorous test of these laws by focusing on more recent elections, by relying on official turnout data rather than surveys, and by employing a more sophisticated research design that assesses change over time using a difference-in-difference approach. Our analysis uses aggregate county turnout data from 2012 to 2016 and finds that the gap in turnout between more racially diverse and less racially diverse counties grew more in states enacting new strict photo ID laws than it did elsewhere. This analysis provides additional empirical evidence that strict voter ID laws appear to discriminate."
AUTHOR
John Kuk
PUBLISHED
2020 Politics, Groups, and Identities
Yes
Yes
5
Voter ID Laws and Voter Turnout
"In recent years, many states have enacted laws imposing strict identification requirements for voting. Proponents contend such laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud while opponents claim the laws disenfranchise legitimate voters, particularly black and Hispanic voters. This paper uses data from 2000 to 2014 federal elections to examine whether these new identification laws reduce voter turnout, either overall or among minority groups. The results provide no evidence that strict identification laws affect overall turnout or black turnout. However, the results do indicate a small reduction in Hispanic turnout, but this effect is statistically significant only if state fixed effects are not included in the estimation."
AUTHOR
Lauren R. Heller
PUBLISHED
2019 Atlantic Economic Journal
No
No
6
We All Agree: Strict Voter ID Laws Disproportionately Burden Minorities
"Voter ID laws determine who can and who cannot vote. Given the recent propagation of these laws by Republican legislatures, efforts by the Trump administration and other state legislatures to expand their reach, and the wide-ranging impact that all of this could have on racial and ethnic minorities, it is imperative that we understand their consequences. The research presented by Grimmer et al. misleads more than it informs. Their comment seeks to convince readers that voter ID laws help minorities as much as they help whites. That conclusion, however, contrasts with their own results. Although Grimmer et al. choose not to mention it, their reanalysis of our data confirms the core finding of our research, which is that strict voter ID laws discriminate. Far from raising questions about the impact of voter identification laws, their research serves to confirm our study and to demonstrate the racially disparate nature of these laws."
AUTHOR
Zoltan Hajnal,
PUBLISHED
2018 The Journal of Politics
Yes
Yes
7
Obstacles to Estimating Voter ID Laws’ Effect on Turnout
"Widespread concern that voter identification laws suppress turnout among racial and ethnic minorities has made empirical evaluations of these laws crucial. But problems with administrative records and survey data impede such evaluations. We replicate and extend Hajnal, Lajevardi, and Nielson’s 2017 article, which concludes that voter ID laws decrease turnout among minorities, using validated turnout data from five national surveys conducted between 2006 and 2014. We show that the results of their article are a product of data inaccuracies, the presented evidence does not support the stated conclusion, and alternative model specifications produce highly variable results. When errors are corrected, one can recover positive, negative, or null estimates of the effect of voter ID laws on turnout, precluding firm conclusions. We highlight more general problems with available data for research on election administration, and we identify more appropriate data sources for research on state voting laws’ effects."
AUTHOR
Justin Grimmer
PUBLISHED
2018 The Journal of Politics
No
No
8
Voter Identification Laws and the Suppression of Minority Votes
"The proliferation of increasingly strict voter identification laws around the country has raised concerns about voter suppression. Although there are many reasons to suspect that these laws could harm groups like racial minorities and the poor, existing studies have been limited, with most occurring before states enacted strict identification requirements, and they have uncovered few effects. By using validated voting data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study for several recent elections, we are able to offer a more definitive test. The analysis shows that strict identification laws have a differentially negative impact on the turnout of racial and ethnic minorities in primaries and general elections. We also find that voter ID laws skew democracy toward those on the political right."
AUTHOR
Zoltan Hajnal
PUBLISHED
2017 The Journal of Politics
Yes
Yes
9
Voter Identification and Black Voter Turnout An Examination of Black Voter Turnout Patterns in Georgia, 2000-2014
"The long-term impact of voter identification laws on black voter turnout has been a hotly debated issue for nearly a decade. Black voter turnout in Georgia is often held up as an example of how voter ID laws have no apparent impact on black political participation. In this paper, I find that while turnout among blacks in Georgia fluctuates, turnout since the implementation of the strict voter identification law is generally higher than black turnout was immediately before strict voter ID requirements were enforced."
AUTHOR
June Andra Gillespie
PUBLISHED
2015 Phylon
No
No
10
The Effect of Voter Identification Laws on Turnout
"Since the passage of the Help America Vote Act in 2002, nearly half of the states have adopted a variety of new identification requirements for voter registration and participation by the 2006 general election. There has been little analysis of whether these requirements reduce voter participation, especially among certain classes of voters. In this paper we document the effect of voter identification requirements on registered voters as they were imposed in states in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, and in the 2002 and 2006 midterm elections. Looking first at trends in the aggregate data, we find no evidence that voter identification requirements reduce participation. Using individual-level data from the Current Population Survey across these elections, however, we find that the strictest forms of voter identification requirements - combination requirements of presenting an identification card and positively matching one's signature with a signature either on file or on the identification card, as well as requirements to show picture identification - have a negative impact on the participation of registered voters relative to the weakest requirement, stating one's name. We also find evidence that the stricter voter identification requirements depress turnout to a greater extent for less educated and lower income populations, for both minorities and non-minorities."
AUTHOR
R. Michael Alvarez
PUBLISHED
2008 California Institute of Technology Social Science Working Paper
Yes
Yes