Rethinking Voter ID: Its Rationale and Impact
(2016) 51 Australian Journal of Political Science (Forthcoming)
Posted: 16 May 2016
Date Written: May 14, 2016
Voter ID is a contentious issue in electoral democracies worldwide. This article surveys arguments for and against voter ID in the Australian context, presenting data from the first election in the country to require it. The data demonstrate a differential impact on regional electorates and on electorates with concentrations of Indigenous voters. Whilst the law in question (from the State of Queensland) was moderate in its overall impact, confusion created by it may have suppressed turnout. The law has since been repealed, but voter ID now has the support of a conservative majority on the Commonwealth Parliament’s electoral matters committee. We conclude that voter ID is not a solution to eliminating fraud, but an additional bureaucratic layer upon the ritual of casting a ballot and a hurdle with unintended consequences.
Keywords: Election law, Voter identification, Voter Suppression, Election administration
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