Editorial: The Fraud of Voter ID
We've always known what Voter ID laws are really about, and now we have empirical evidence. Recent analysis of Voter ID laws have shown a dramatic increase in the turnout gap between whites and nonwhites after implementation of new, strict provisions. This was never about safe-guarding elections, it was about gaining a partisan and racial advantage.
North Carolina, seeking to avoid a court striking down one of the the nation’s strictest photo ID requirements, softened its law to allow for those with a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining a valid ID to vote after signing a form. The local board of elections then assesses whether the impediment was reasonable before deciding whether the vote should count.
In his opinion of April 25, U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder dismissed the suppressive effect of North Carolina’s voting changes by noting that voting by African-Americans increased after the law passed in 2013. He compared turnout in the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections but did not allow for the effect of a major Senate race in 2014 and the effect of African-Americans turning out to protest efforts to suppress minority voting. The photo ID change did not take effect until this year, but Schroeder said the “reasonable impediment” exception should mitigate any negative effect it may have of turnout.
But the Times quotes a voting expert who said the proper comparison is not between elections, but between states with and without photo ID requirements. Zoltan L. Hajnal, a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego, and the author of a study on photo ID laws and minority turnout, said, “We’re finding typically that strict voter ID laws double or triple the gap in turnout between whites and nonwhites.”