Analyzing Minority Turnout After Voter ID

Turnout among Hispanic voters in Georgia did not increase after a restrictive no-photo, no-vote ID law went into effect, as some have claimed.

March 15, 2012

I had the pleasure of speaking with Kerry Miller of the Daily Circuit on Minnesota Public Radio on the subject of Voter ID laws. Minnesota currently has a proposed constitutional amendment moving through its legislature to impose strict photo ID restrictions on voters and possibly eliminate Election Day registration. I take great pride in the fact that my home state of Minnesota consistently has the highest turnout in the country, and I’m pained by this legislation that is sure to reduce opportunities for voter participation across the state.

I want to correct a common misperception that came up during show, suggesting that voter turnout among Hispanic voters in Georgia has increased since the passage of its restrictive no-photo, no-vote photo ID law. 

Motivation for voter turnout is notoriously difficult to measure. It’s a moving target, not lending itself easily to empirical methods of evaluation. But in this case, any assertion that voter turnout among Hispanics increased in Georgia following enactment of its strict voter ID law is simply not true.

According to the GA Secretary of State,Georgia’s Hispanic turnout (calculated as a percentage of registered voters) was lower in 2010 than in 2006, and it was lower in 2008 than in 2004. See table below:

 

Registered Hispanic Voters

Actual Hispanic Voters

Hispanic Turnout %

2004

30,148

18,240

60.5%

2006

43,514

11,601

26.7%

2008

73,375

43,717

59.6%

2010

75,658

19,320

25.5%

The number of Hispanic voters was greater in the 2010 election than in the 2006 election, and in the 2008 election than in the 2004 election, as the total population of registered Hispanic voters increased by 73.9 percent and 144 percent, respectively. However, there was a slight reduction in the percentage of voter turnout for Hispanics between presidential election years 2004 and 2008 and non-presidential election years 2006 and 2010.    

While simple turnout numbers from a single state cannot tell us exactly what impact new voter restrictions have on voter turnout, it’s clear that in Georgia, the percentage of minority voter turnout has not increased following enactment of its strict voter ID law.

Strict voter ID laws are absolutely the wrong policy direction for this country. Voter participation rates across all racial, ethnic and socio-economic are dropping each election year. Georgia has seen voter participation rates in the fastest growing ethnic population over the past decade stay flat or decline.  As we consider what is best for America, increased voter participation is essential to restoring faith in our democracy and strict voter ID laws that fail to solve any real problems are wrong for America.