Voter Identification Laws and the Suppression of Minority and Democratic Votes

Awarded Scholars:
Zoltan Hajnal, University of California San Diego
Project Date:
Jan 2016
Award Amount:
$23,136
Project Programs:
Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration

Since 2008, 34 states have passed some form of voter identification law. Proponents of these laws claim that they are warranted because fraud is a real and potentially widespread phenomenon that could alter electoral outcomes and erode faith in democracy. Critics contend that these laws serve as a barrier that limits the legitimate participation of racial and ethnic minorities and other disadvantaged groups. To date, there is no conclusive evidence of the actual consequences of voter identification laws.

Political scientist Zoltan Hajnal will examine the impact of voter identification laws on minorities, other disadvantaged groups, and those on the political left (Democrats). He will compare turnout of individuals in states with strict photo identification laws to turnout in other states after controlling for an array of other factors that could drive turnout. Specifically, he will test whether the turnout gap between different groups (e.g. whites and minorities; the middle class and the lower class; Republicans and Democrats) is greater in strict voter ID states.

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