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
Date Written: July 13, 2018
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.
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