The Dubious Menace of Voter ID

Voter ID laws have been a point of heavy contention over the last few years. Republicans think that Democrats are only winning because of massive voter fraud and want strict ID laws. Democrats think ID laws are a conspiracy to disenfranchise poor people, minorities and students. It sure would be nice to have some data to constrain their imaginations.

Oh, look!

North Carolina is considering a strict new voter ID law, so North Carolina’s Secretary of State has conducted an analysis estimating how many voters have a state-issued photo ID. This isn’t necessarily new; states have done these sorts of analyses before. But North Carolina’s analysis overcomes many of the limitations that reduced the usefulness of previous assessments, like Pennsylvania’s. Other efforts required an exact match between voter registration and DMV databases; North Carolina expanded their matching criteria to allow for slight variations in names and data entry errors. North Carolina didn’t just look at how many registered voters didn’t have voter ID, they also looked at how many voters from the 2012 general election didn’t have voter ID. That’s very important, since it’s easy to imagine that voters without a car, or the elderly and the young would be especially likely to stay home on Election Day. And since North Carolina tracks voter registration by race and party, we have a pretty clear idea of how they would have voted.

The long and short is this. About 300,000 eligible voters don’t have ID. And about 138,000 people who voted in North Carolina in 2012 didn’t have ID. Of the voters without ID about half were non-white (compared to 30% generally) and 58% were Democrat (compared to 43%). So the impact was stronger on traditionally Democratic voters. However, even if all the people who didn’t have ID were denied the ability to vote — and in actual voter ID situation, that number would have been far less than 138,000 — the impact would have been minimal:

As a result, Obama’s share of the vote in North Carolina might have dropped from 48.3 to 48 percent, expanding Romney’s margin of victory from 92,000 to about 120,000 votes. 25,000 to 30,000 votes could flip a very close election, but nothing more. In 2012, no state was so close.

That’s Nate Cohn at the New Republic, by the way, who opposes voter ID laws and thinks they are a conspiracy to disenfranchise Democrats and steal elections. But even he is forced to acknowledge that impact would be minimal even in a state that has a large minority population and lots of students. Moreover, no voter ID law was being enforced. If it were, the number of ID-less voters would have been lower as the state and the parties made pushes to get IDs for eligible voters.

The wild claims of stolen elections were always a bit ridiculous. If massive vote fraud were occurring, we would expect participation rates to be much higher in inner cities instead of much lower. But so were the hysterical claims that elections were being stolen by Republicans. The simple fact is that 95% of the population has some form of acceptable identification.

Now I oppose the idea of 138,000 people being denied the right to vote if they are entitled to it. I think any voter ID laws needs to come with provisions to make it easy for legitimate voters to obtain ID and exercise their rights. But this study indicates we can back away from the abyss and move the debate and the law to more reasonable terms. In my opinion, those reasonable terms are requiring ID while making it easy for voting citizens to get them (including provisional ballots for those who forget or lose their ID). It may not swing many elections. But it will diffuse an issues that has dragged on for far too long.

Comments are closed.

  1. Seattle Outcast

    Washington State’s last governor was nearly universally acknowledged to have “won” her first election through voter fraud, even by the governor herself.

    It does happen, and in this case apparently organized and performed by the DNC itself.

    Thumb up 3

  2. Hal_10000 *

    I think you illustrated the point. She won by 130 votes out of 2.7 million. Even the most generous assessment is about 1700 fraudulent votes. It’s rare than an election is that close. But the GOP was claiming voter ID would have swung Pennsylvania, which Obama won by over 300,000 votes.

    The Washington governor election is one reason I support voter ID. The Al Franken election is another. But it’s not representative of most elections.

    Thumb up 2

  3. AlexInCT

    I think you illustrated the point. She won by 130 votes out of 2.7 million. Even the most generous assessment is about 1700 fraudulent votes.

    There is a reason that stamping out voter fraud becomes even more important when things are close. I know democrats are committing voter fraud as soon as you have heavily donkey voting precincts not send in their votes until after they have tallied the opposition’s count. Then, suddenly, someone will discover a whole slew of “misplaced” ballots that turn out to provide just enough votes for the democrat to win it.

    I recall a recent election in Minnesota of all places where they got caught pulling just this trick, but then, the other side came back and pointed out they had done a miscount and that new tally was far higher than the “misplaced” ballots the donkeys happened to find, leading to a loss. Of course, the democrats immediately accused the republicans of committing fraud, because they are so used to doing just that, that their first assumption is the other side did it too.

    Hard to steal landslide elections, even with the help of a complicit media, the power of government bureaucrats to destroy your opposition’s reputation through malfeasance and clear constitutional violations, and the many other special interests the left counts on to help dead people vote and both dead people and others to vote, and vote often, but the left knows things are tight, at least for now, so there is ample chance for cheating. They plan to correct that by giving citizenship to millions of law breakers looking for free shit, though so they might not need to resort to so much criminal activity going forward and by going after any and all serious opposition using the massive database of information that Obamacare will provide them. We ain’t seen nothing yet, but the tyrants are wringing their hands with the prospect of the royal fucking they an for all of us.

    Thumb up 4

  4. Mook

    The wild claims of stolen elections were always a bit ridiculous

    Really Hal? What was it, something like 100 precincts in Ohio with 99% or 100% vote for Obama, some without a single vote for Romney? No likely fraud there, huh? As there ever before in history been so many precincts voting so overwhelmingly for 1 candidate? That is, outside of Chicago elections.

    How about dishonest as hell precinct workers who don’t even check IDs, or rampant fake IDs among those who vote? Or voters with IDs who vote multiple times, or voting machines being tampered with? Yeah Hal, voter fraud is only an exaggerated problem in the minds of racist rightwingnuts, right? IDs need to be checked and those IDs need an “instant background check” to ensure that a) the ID is valid and b) that the voter only voted once.

    Incredible that a govt. ID is required to board an airplane, buy alcohol, visit a doctor, or enter government buildings, but it’s somehow considered to be “unreasonable suppression of votes” if an ID is required to vote.

    Thumb up 6

  5. Hal_10000 *

    Really Hal? What was it, something like 100 precincts in Ohio with 99% or 100% vote for Obama, some without a single vote for Romney? No likely fraud there, huh?

    No. When you have districts that are 100% black and Obama is getting 97% of the black vote, you’re going to have districts where he gets 100% of the vote. You can actually break it down by district and see that there is a distribution in those districts where Obama’s average of 97% varies from the low 90’s to 100%.

    Look at the voter participation numbers. They are lower in those areas, not higher.

    IDs need to be checked and those IDs need an “instant background check” to ensure that a) the ID is valid and b) that the voter only voted once.

    You’re then talking about a national ID card and a national voter database, which are of very dubious Constitutionality and have little support from Republicans.

    Thumb up 1

  6. Mook

    No. When you have districts that are 100% black and Obama is getting 97% of the black vote, you’re going to have districts where he gets 100% of the vote

    Except that there are no districts in that region of Ohio which are “100%” black or anything close to it… Cuyahoga County, where many of the 99% or 100% Obama votes came from is over 2 to 1 white to black. And it wasn’t just Ohio. It was PA too.. probably others that I’m not aware of. Again, this is unprecedented, unless you can show me when such a thing has ever happened before.

    You’re then talking about a national ID card and a national voter database

    I don’t see how you can possibly defend that claim. Both state IDs and passports have scanner bars. It would be nothing to swipe cards or scan passports to verify if the IDs are valid, and to verify that the ID had only been used once for voting. Of course, those who want to defend the indefensible will make up any irrational excuse to defend the idea that voters shouldn’t have to produce IDs. It’s an indefensible position which invites and encourages fraud and abuse.

    Thumb up 5

  7. Mook

    Look at the voter participation numbers. They are lower in those areas, not higher.

    Which reflected the national trend. Overall, fewer people voted in the 2012 election compared to 2008. What’s your point in bringing up that meaningless piece of information?

    Thumb up 2

  8. Hal_10000 *

    Both state IDs and passports have scanner bars. It would be nothing to swipe cards or scan passports to verify if the IDs are valid, and to verify that the ID had only been used once for voting

    1) Passports are a federal document, not state ones. And the majority of Americans do not have them.

    2) Really? That would end it? That would make sure no one is registered in two states? Or that they are eligible to vote in that district? Or that they weren’t convicted of a felony in another state? Remember the infamous strike list in 2000 that the liberals had hissy fits over? That was crude attempt to reconcile various pieces of information to confirm voter eligibility.

    Thumb up 0

  9. Mook

    1) Passports are a federal document, not state ones. And the majority of Americans do not have them

    .

    Thank you for that “gem” of an observation Hal. How does that change my point in any way? And when did I suggest that passports were NOT a federal document you arrogant prick?

    Thumb up 1

  10. Mook

    Oh, look, Mook, Snopes looked at this shortly after the election.

    Except that Snopes doesn’t address my claims in any way WHATSOEVER. It was a Snopes rebuttal to other separate claims about voter fraud. Can you read Hal? Again, did or did not 100 precincts, many in Cuyahoga County (not Wood county cited in the Snopes piece) vote 99% or 100% for Obama? Is this not unprecendented? You don’t bother to address these specifics because you CAN’T. It’s all part of your dishonest fantasy that voter fraud is some boogeyman in the fevered imaginations of racist rightwingnuts and Hal, side by side with his butt buddy Ezra Klein, speak ‘truth to power’ to set those wingnuts straight.

    Thumb up 1

  11. Hal_10000 *

    Same conspiracy theory shit, Mook, different conspiracy theory day. Here are the official result from Cayahoga county. Obama got 70% of the vote in the county. In only ONE precinct did Romney get 0 votes. In about 136 of 1078 precincts, Obama got 99%, similar to what Snopes found in their analysis of Wood county and Pennsylvania. I don’t have voter registration numbers on the Cayahoga site, but I would suspect we would see the same thing: near 100% Democratic registration in those districts.

    If voter fraud were occurring in the numbers you expect, we would see HIGHER vote participation rates in the inner cities, not lower. The website you link to see the lower participation rates as proof of the conspiracy. He’s not claiming fraudulent voters who would be deterred by ID. He’s claiming Romney votes were deleted because the missing ballots — half the ballots in some case — would obviously have been cast for Romney in districts that are 90-100% Democrat.

    And again, I fall back on the analysis of North Carolina — out of 4.5 million voters, only 138,000, less than 3% didn’t have ID. The maximum shift – assuming those were all fraudsters — would have been 30,000 votes. Obama won Ohio by 160,000 votes. Even scaling up for population, that’s four times as big as the maximum size of the problem.

    Thumb up 0

  12. Hal_10000 *

    Looking back over the comments, I misread what you were saying about the voter database. Most of the time, I’ve seen that proposed on a national level (to combat the problem of people voting in multiple states). A state-level database would work, providing it can confirm information from federal databases (i.e., passports).

    Thumb up 0

  13. HARLEY

    PURPLE INDELIBLE INK ON THE RIGHT HAND THUMB AS A MAKE THAT A PERSON HAS VOTED.. LIKE WE DID IN Iraq….. IS IT SO FUCKING HARD?

    Thumb up 4

  14. Hal_10000 *

    PURPLE INDELIBLE INK ON THE RIGHT HAND THUMB AS A MAKE THAT A PERSON HAS VOTED.. LIKE WE DID IN Iraq….. IS IT SO FUCKING HARD?

    I would actually be in favor of that. Certainly better than the stupid “I voted” sitckers. Every time I see those around campus, all I can think is, “and I knew who you voted for, idiot.”

    Thumb up 1

  15. HARLEY

    PERSONALLY I THINK WE SHOULD MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT TO VOTE, WEED OUT THOSE THAT VOTE JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT OR PUT LITTLE OR NO THOUGHT INTO WHOM THEY VOTE FOR.
    BACK IN THE DAY, VOTING WAS A SOMETHING PEOPLE TOOK PRIDE IN, GOT DRESSED UP, MADE 1-2 DAY EXCURIONS FROM THE COUNTRY HOME TO THE LOCAL COUNTY SEAT TO VOTE, …. MEH WELL MAYBE NOT REALLY, BUT THERE WAS FAR FAR MORE EFFORT INVOLVED AND MORE THOUGHT THAT THE MINDLESS PREATTLINGS THAT GO IN PRIOR TO A ELECTION NOWADAYS…

    Thumb up 4

  16. Seattle Outcast

    Oh, look, Mook, Snopes looked at this shortly after the election.

    You do realize that Snopes ceased being a reliable source of information several years back, correct? At some point they became a pro-progressive disinformation site, much like the nutjobs that took over the weather and climate pages on Wikipedia, and haven’t looked back.

    Thumb up 2

  17. AlexInCT

    PERSONALLY I THINK WE SHOULD MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT TO VOTE, WEED OUT THOSE THAT VOTE JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT OR PUT LITTLE OR NO THOUGHT INTO WHOM THEY VOTE FOR.

    We still going to allow the whinos that get bussed from polling place to polling place to vote, in return for cigarettes, booze, or whatever else buys their vote, to keep voting? One political party might not like it if you set standards that would “disenfranchise” uninformed voters, dead people, criminals, illegals, or people whose votes are for sale.

    Thumb up 2

  18. CM

    You do realize that Snopes ceased being a reliable source of information several years back, correct? At some point they became a pro-progressive disinformation site, much like the nutjobs that took over the weather and climate pages on Wikipedia, and haven’t looked back.

    Says Mr Unskewed Polls himself….;-)

    Thumb up 2