Newspaper: Voter ID Laws Have Positive Effect, If Any, On Minority Turnout


On Tuesday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published the results of its investigation into how mandatory voter identification has affected the frequency with which different demographic groups go to the polls in Georgia since the voter ID law went into effect there five years ago.

The results don’t offer much statistical comfort for Attorney General Eric Holder and others who’ve made a Federal case — literally — over the Supreme Court’s historic ruling this summer to strike down part of the civil rights-era Voting Rights Act, an outdated law that unfairly leashed several States’ powers to draw their own voting districts.

While requiring voters to present a valid form of State-issued photo identification failed to catch a single documented case of voter fraud in five years, it also didn’t stymie the will of non-white voters in Georgia to play an active part in the process of self-government.

The AJC found that, in the State’s new era of voter ID, minorities are actually turning out to vote at a faster rate than the population of their demographic is growing.

“Turnout among black and Hispanic voters increased from 2006 to 2010, dramatically outpacing population growth for those groups over the same period,” writes reporter Shannon McCaffrey:

Elections data reviewed by the AJC show that participation among black voters rose by 44 percent from 2006 — before the law was implemented — to 2010. For Hispanics, the increase for the same period was 67 percent. Turnout among whites rose 12 percent.

It was expected that African American turnout would spike in 2008, when Barack Obama became the first person of color to win the presidency. And it did rise to historic highs in Georgia.

Black participation fell in 2010, as it did for all demographic groups. Still, a far greater share of black voters turned out in 2010 than in 2006, showing that Obama was not the only factor driving turnout.

Critics of laws in Georgia, Pennsylvania and other States requiring voters to demonstrate proof of identity at the polling place have argued that minorities and poor people will be excluded from de facto voter eligibility because many don’t currently possess any of the forms of ID required under the law.

“Over thirty states considered laws that would require voters to present government-issued photo ID in order to vote,” complains the well-intentioned American Civil Liberties Union. “Studies suggest that up to 11 percent of American citizens lack such ID, and would be required to navigate the administrative burdens to obtain it or forego the right to vote entirely.”

It doesn’t take a study to “suggest,” however, that everyone who legally operates a motor vehicle in the United States has some form of valid driver’s license, and that –rich or poor, citizen or expat — each of them was, at least once, “required to navigate the administrative burdens to obtain it.” Requiring voter ID is no more restrictive than that; in fact, it’s far more permissive.

In Georgia, any eligible voter who doesn’t have one of the several passable forms of qualifying identification (a passport, a military or government employee ID, a State college or university student ID, a driver’s license — even an expired one) can apply for a free — yes, free — Georgia Voter Identification Card at their local registrar or department of motor vehicles. Applicants have to show proof they’re registered voters, and the list of documents that identifies them and verifies them as citizens and residents is intentionally broad.

“If you look at the numbers, they clearly show that critics of this law were wrong,” Hans von Spakovsky, a former legal counsel to the Justice Department’s civil rights division who now works for the conservative Heritage Foundation, told the AJC. “Their argument has always been it would depress turnout, but it didn’t happen — quite the opposite.”

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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  • Harold Olsen

    I’m sure Holder doesn’t like any report that casts a positive light on voter ID laws. It prevents his Nazi Democrat party from committing voter fraud. Voter fraud is the only way they can win elections. Democrat = Corruption.

    • podunk1

      Internal control is an accounting function that is audited by outside certified public accounting firms in the private sector – (all SEC firms).

      Internal control is blocked by the Obama – Holder team, where violations either originate and/or are blocked by failure to prosecute accompanied by obstructing justice with false information regarding control procedures.

      Congress needs to demand an independent audit by a national CPA firm. Proving who you are by appropriate verify able documentation is a no brainer – especially with the on line access capability. Name, address, SSI, etc., with a picture provides enough data to effectively end voter fraud. Data mining, of name, addresses, physical features will put an end to dead people, multiple residence registrations, voting for someone else, etc., etc.

      Violations should begin with 24 hr. jail time and severe penalty when convicted. That penalty must be applied to any law officer who OBSTRUCTS and fails to uphold the law, with added severity for any “manager” or “Official” administering the laws (removal from office – no benefits – long prison term)!

  • Moustache The First

    The key question: How many of those minority IDs were fake?

  • Chester

    Funny thing is, that driver’s license is NOT proof of citizenship, as is seen any time you have to renew it. The mere fact of possessing a valid license is not sufficient proof of identity and/or citizenship to allow you to renew said license, thus the license is not sufficient proof of who you are to allow you to use it as a voter ID. More appropriate would be use of the state, or county, issued voter ID card every voting district I am aware of requires you to present. It may not have your picture on it, yet, but will be accepted in all voting precincts as proof that you are allowed to vote.

    • Marion Wildeboer

      Not allowed to vote if you are not on the registration list. The ID merely proves that you are the person that is registered. The ID is no good if you are not on the list.

      • Chester

        First, if you aren’t on the list, you will have no registration identification card issued to you. For Independent thinker above, I have been requested to show the registration card, but not my photo ID. Of course, most of the time I have grown up with the judges and other election officials present, but they still have to verify their memories.

    • independent thinker

      I have NEVER had to show a voter ID card when I went to vote. I have been asked for a DL to show I am who I claim to be.

    • Robert Messmer

      Chester you forget that every state sets their own laws. Here in Florida either the DL or State ID card is required as identity proof when voting in person. The poll personnel do not even wish to see your voter registration card–that card is intended only to convey to you the information you need to know what district, precinct, etc that you get to vote for. Once we have jumped through all the hoops required to have either DL/State ID card issued after 1 Jan 2010 said card displays a gold star at the end of the number. To renew all we have to show is proof of current residency. (And pay the fee, of course.)

  • Marion Wildeboer

    Do not trust Democrat officials. Take the dead people off of the list.

  • Wellarmed

    Even if the IDs issue were resolved 100%, the voting machines themselves have by and large been converted to digital computer based systems which are subject to manipulation (aka hacking).

    When using these machines, my state (NM) now requires a paper receipt be printed so the voter can rest assured that their vote was proper based on their inputs, but what I do not see is a way to conduct an audit on the fly. These receipts should be made in duplicate; One for the voters record and one to be deposited in a lock box located at each polling place, to be available for independent review after an election has been performed. The paper receipts must match exactly the electronic data that is submitted to the states, and if it does not then voter fraud most likely occurred in cyberspace. I am certain that this discrepancy is occurring during our national elections irrespective of the voting ID issue. This forces me to vote via absentee ballot, which guarantees a paper trail at the bare minimum.

    Voter IDs should be required to vote. No if, ands or buts, but they should be iron clad as to their authenticity and not cost the citizen a red cent. I find it rather hypocritical of democrats that they take issue with an expense of obtaining a voter ID, but have no problem what so ever with forcing those who wish to exercise their right to bear arms with the incredible financial burden of obtaining a concealed or open carry permit.

    The cost for obtaining either ID should be zero Dollars for the citizen, or be reimbursed by the state in the event that they occur.