Friday, April 17, 2015

Voter ID Laws Do Not Negatively Impact Voter Turnout

A Heritage Foundation study recently addressed this issue.  The Heritage study was in response to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.  GAO reviewed recent elections in Kansas and claimed that "Kansas... had seen decreased voter turnout since its voter ID law went into effect" in 2012, therefore, voter ID laws have a negative impact since they suppress voter turnout.

GAO based this assumption on decreased voter turnout between the 2008 and 2012 elections.  However, the Heritage study pointed out that a decrease was not due to the voter ID law.  Instead, it was improper to compare 2008 with 2012 because there were no statewide political campaigns in 2012, and presidential campaigns are "typically not active in Kansas due to the perception that Kansas is a 'safe' Republican state."  Thus, there was no get-out-the-vote effort in 2012.  The Heritage report explained that it was more appropriate to compare the 2012 election with 2000, with 2012 having a slight increase in the percent of voters participating.  Heritage further explained that the 2010 should instead be compared to a similar election in 2014 when "there was a positive 1.1 percent increase in voter turnout."  Other states with voter ID laws were cited as having similar increases in voter turnout.

The Kansas Secretary of State concluded that "The system is really designed to ensure that it's easy to vote and hard to cheat and I think we accomplished that."

By James Keats

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