Strict Voter Identification Laws, Turnout, and Election Outcomes

27 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2019 Last revised: 9 Aug 2021

See all articles by Mark Hoekstra

Mark Hoekstra

Texas A&M University - Department of Economics

Vijetha Koppa

Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Dubai

Date Written: August 2019

Abstract

Since 2000, ten states have enacted strict voter identification laws, which require that voters show identification in order for their votes to count. While proponents argue these laws prevent voter fraud and protect the integrity of elections, opponents argue they disenfranchise low-income and minority voters. In this paper, we document the extent to which these laws can affect voter turnout and election outcomes. We do so using historical data on more than 2,000 races in Florida and Michigan, which both allow and track ballots cast without identification. Results indicate that at most only 0.10% and 0.31% of total votes cast in each state were cast without IDs. Thus, even under the extreme assumption that all voters without IDs were either fraudulent or would be disenfranchised by a strict law, the enactment of such a law would have only a very small effect on turnout. Similarly, we also show under a range of conservative assumptions that very few election results could have been flipped due to a strict law. Collectively, our findings indicate that even if the worst fears of proponents or critics were true, strict identification laws are unlikely to have a meaningful impact on turnout or election outcomes.

Suggested Citation

Hoekstra, Mark and Koppa, Vijetha, Strict Voter Identification Laws, Turnout, and Election Outcomes (August 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w26206, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3446516

Mark Hoekstra (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University - Department of Economics ( email )

5201 University Blvd.
College Station, TX 77843-4228
United States

Vijetha Koppa

Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Dubai ( email )

DIAC
Dubai, 345006
United Arab Emirates

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