Who Votes Without Identification? Using Affidavits from Michigan to Learn About the Potential Impact of Strict Photo Voter Identification Laws

42 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2018 Last revised: 23 Jul 2018

See all articles by Phoebe Henninger

Phoebe Henninger

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Marc Meredith

University of Pennsylvania

Michael Morse

Harvard University - Department of Government; Yale Law School

Date Written: July 13, 2018

Abstract

It is still unknown how many citizens are prevented from voting by strict photo voter identification (ID) laws. This is in part because there is no administrative record of who is turned away from a polling place or, anticipating as much, never shows up at all. We solve this measurement problem by studying Michigan's non-strict photo voter ID law. Michigan voters are asked present photo ID, but, in contrast to strict states, are allowed to vote without photo ID after signing an affidavit. Collecting and coding the affidavits filed in the 2016 presidential election in a random sample of precincts allows us to observe those voters who both desired to vote and lacked the ID that would be necessary to vote in a strict ID state. We find a strict photo ID law would have disparate racial impact, but on a small effect size. About 0.6 percent, or 28,000, of voters lacked photo identification. Imputing race based on surname and place of residence, we find that non-white voters are between 2.5 and 6 times more likely that white votes to lack photo ID.

Suggested Citation

Henninger, Phoebe and Meredith, Marc and Morse, Michael, Who Votes Without Identification? Using Affidavits from Michigan to Learn About the Potential Impact of Strict Photo Voter Identification Laws (July 13, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3205769 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3205769

Phoebe Henninger

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Marc Meredith (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Michael Morse

Harvard University - Department of Government ( email )

1737 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Yale Law School ( email )

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