As Dems Prepare for a Battle on Voter ID, A New Study Shows No Connection to Disenfranchisement

REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

As House Democrats push for legislation targeting voter I.D. laws, a new study found that there was no significant connection between identification laws and a depressed voter turnout.

Democrats are currently working to pass H.R. 1, a bill focused on improving access to voters and restructuring campaign finance laws. The bill would require online or automatic voter registration and the option for correspondence about voter registration through e-mail, instead of the postal service. In addition to the voting process, H.R. 1 would also allow felons to vote after they are released from prison.

One of the more controversial aspects of the bill is a section on clarifying the “necessary information to show eligibility to vote.” Democrats supporting H.R. 1 claim that requiring a standard identification card is a discriminatory practice and they aim to curb it by allowing votes to be cast using a sworn affidavit instead of a photo ID.

This was one of the key issues in several elections, but most notably the elections in Georgia. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams made the case that voter ID laws resulted in voter suppression and lower voter turnout, but a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that there was no significant tie between voter ID laws and voter turnout.

According to a report from the Washington Times, strict voter ID policies had “no significant effect on voter turnout, don’t keep interested voters from being able to vote, and for that matter don’t prevent them from registering.”

“I would probably put my energy and effort into things other than voter identification laws,” said study author Enrico Cantoni of the University of Bologna in Italy.

While some conservatives may rejoice in the study’s findings, the study didn’t find evidence that strong voter ID laws boost American confidence in the democratic system — which is one talking point used to promote voter ID laws.

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