Voting But for the Law: Evidence from Virginia on Photo Identification Requirements

50 Pages Posted: 28 May 2020

See all articles by Daniel J. Hopkins

Daniel J. Hopkins

University of Pennsylvania

Marc Meredith

University of Pennsylvania

Michael Morse

Harvard University - Department of Government

Sarah Smith

Independent

Jesse Yoder

Stanford University

Date Written: March 2017

Abstract

One contentious question in contemporary election administration is the impact of voter identification requirements. We study a Virginia law that allows us to isolate the impact of requiring voters to show photo identification. Using novel, precinct‐level data, we find that the percentage of registered voters without a driver's license and over age 85 are both positively associated with the number of provisional ballots cast due to a lack of a photo ID. To examine the law's impact on turnout, we associate precinct‐level demographics with the change in turnout between the 2013 gubernatorial and 2014 midterm elections. All else equal, turnout was higher in places where more active registered voters lacked a driver's license. This unexpected relationship might be explained by a targeted Department of Elections mailing, suggesting that the initial impact of voter ID laws may hinge on efforts to notify voters likely to be affected.

Suggested Citation

Hopkins, Daniel J. and Meredith, Marc and Morse, Michael and Smith, Sarah and Yoder, Jesse, Voting But for the Law: Evidence from Virginia on Photo Identification Requirements (March 2017). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 14, Issue 1, pp. 79-128, 2017, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3607351 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jels.12142

Daniel J. Hopkins (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.danhopkins.org

Marc Meredith

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Michael Morse

Harvard University - Department of Government ( email )

MA
United States

Sarah Smith

Independent

Jesse Yoder

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jesselyoder.com

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