Here are two new pieces of information about how ridiculous voter ID laws are, except as a way to suppress votes, and how effective they are in keeping
the wrong kind of people
Democrat-leaning minorities from voting.
The first comes from the hyperactive and hyper-intense John Oliver, who on his first show back nails the voter ID question
in 15 fact-and-joke-filled minutes. (The link is to youtube, so you can watch it even if you don't have HBO.) One of Oliver's salient points: Voter ID laws are only concerned with one way votes can illegally be added to the count: voter impersonation. That solves a nonexistent problem. Statistically, the number of people who either illegally sign up to vote or pretend to be someone else at the polling booth approaches zero. Republican yelling and screaming about the hordes of people committing fraud and their contention that the only way to stop it is with a picture ID is an attempt to camouflage the read purpose of the laws: to keep predominantly Democratic voters away from the polls.
The second is a study out of UC San Diego
which concludes that voter ID laws are successful in suppressing votes among minority groups who tend to lean Democratic.
The analysis shows that strict photo identification laws have a differentially negative impact on the turnout of Hispanics, Blacks, and mixed-race Americans in primaries and general elections. . . . [W]e find that strict voter identification laws do, in fact, substantially alter the makeup of who votes and ultimately do skew democracy in favor of whites and those on the political right. These laws significantly impact the representativeness of the vote and the fairness of democracy.
Before looking at the study, I wasn't aware that the country managed to do without laws requiring identification to vote until 2008. I'll let you decide whether Obama's 2008 election was a contributing factor or a coincidence.
The study says that Latino and Black turnout is significantly lower in states with voter ID than states without it.
The models reveal substantial drops in turnout for minorities under strict voter ID laws. In the general elections, the model predicts Latino turnout was 10.3 points lower in states with photo ID than in states without strict photo ID regulations, all else equal. For multi-racial Americans, turnout was 12.8 points lower under strict photo ID laws. These effects were almost as large in primary elections. Here, a strict photo ID law could be expected to depress Latino turnout by 6.3 points and Black turnout by 1.6 points. Given the already low turnout of most of these groups across the country, these declines are all the more noteworthy.
Voter ID had little effect on the turnout of white and Asian voters.
In Voter ID states, the gap in voter participation between whites and non-whites increased.
[T]hese laws served not only to diminish minority participation, they also increased the gap in the participation rate between whites and non-whites. For Latinos in the general election, the predicted gap from whites doubled from 5.3 points in states without strict photo ID laws to 11.9 in states with strict photo ID laws. The predicted Latino-white gap almost tripled from 5.0 points to 13.3 in primaries. Likewise, for African Americans the predicted gap in primaries almost doubled from 4.8 points to 8.5 points.
The conclusions of the paper are obvious logically and intuitively to anyone who isn't blinded by their love of Voter ID laws, but even so, the numbers in the paper are striking. Election results can and will be changed because of the purposeful suppression of Democratic-leaning minority voters. But if you'd rather listen to Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, an intelligent, devious, scheming, rising star of the Arizona Republican party, you don't have to worry about logic or evidence. Because, as he said when he was defending the bill to stop people from collecting other people's ballots against the lack of evidence of any fraudulent behavior by the collectors:
“What is indisputable is that many people believe it’s happening,” he said. “You can’t really argue with that. And I think that matters.”
By that logic, Copernicus should have shut the hell up about that notion that the Earth revolves around the sun rather than being the center of the universe. After all, it's indisputable that many people, even the majority of people back then, believed the Earth is the center of the universe, and according to Mesnard, that's what matters.