From Arizona to North Carolina, Republicans have been following the same playbook in order to tilt elections in their favor. Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country are passing restrictive voting laws, claiming they fight voter fraud, while making it harder for groups that tend to vote Democratic – women, minorities, and students – to cast their ballots.
Even former Senator Jim DeMint, who now leads the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, recently admitted that voter ID laws help elect “more conservative candidates.” And even if that weren’t the case, these laws are clearly a solution in search of a problem. Voter impersonation – the type of fraud that photo IDs are supposed to eliminate – is effectively non-existent. A comprehensive investigation of voter impersonation found only 31 credible incidents out of one billion ballots cast from 2000 through 2014.
The New York Times took a closer look at the impact of voter ID laws on critical races. The overall take-away: recent academic research suggests that these laws “restrict turnout and disproportionately affect voting by minorities.” Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Stricter Rules for Voter IDs Reshape Races
The New York Times // Michael Wines and Manny Fernandez
Since their inception a decade ago, voter identification laws have been the focus of fierce political and social debate. Proponents, largely Republican, argue that the regulations are essential tools to combat election fraud, while critics contend that they are mainly intended to suppress turnout of Democratic-leaning constituencies like minorities and students.
As the general election nears — in which new or strengthened voter ID laws will be in place in Texas and 14 other states for the first time in a presidential election — recent academic research indicates that the requirements restrict turnout and disproportionately affect voting by minorities. The laws are also, as in the case of Mr. Gallego, reshaping how many campaigns are run — with candidates not only spending time to secure votes, but also time to ensure those votes can be cast.
Thirty-three states now have ID laws, at least 17 of them — including Texas — requiring not just written proof of identity, but requiring or requesting a photograph as well.