Secretary of State Jim Bennett said today that Alabama’s new photo voter ID law caused only a few inquiries to his office during the Nov. 4 election. The general election was the biggest test yet of the law, with 1.2 million people voting. It was in effect for the first time during the primaries in June. “We feel very good about the results of the implementation of that program,” Bennett said. Ala.com
With an important article entitled “Why Voter ID Laws Don’t Swing Many Elections,” superstar statistician Nate Cohn writes that the Brennan Center and their cadre of experts are offering faulty statistics and misleading conclusions on the impact of voter ID laws. The article asserts this is due to inaccurate matching processes and not accounting for other forms of ID. Must read:
But the so-called margin of disenfranchisement — the number of registered voters who do not appear to have photo identification — grossly overstates the potential electoral consequences of these laws. These figures overstate the number of voters who truly lack identification. Those without ID are particularly unlikely to vote. And many who do vote will vote Republican. In the end, the seemingly vast registration gaps dwindle, leaving enough voters to decide only elections determined by fractions of a point.
To begin with, the true number of registered voters without photo identification is usually much lower than the statistics on registered voters without identification suggest. The number of voters without photo identification is calculated by matching voter registration files with state ID databases. But perfect matching is impossible, and the effect is to overestimate the number of voters without identification.
Take Texas, a state with a particularly onerous voter ID law. If I register to vote as “Nate” but my ID says “Nathan,” I might be counted among the hundreds of thousands of registered voters without a photo ID. But I’ll be fine at the polling station on Election Day with a name that’s “substantially similar” to the one on file. The matching issues run well beyond substantive ones like nicknames. If you’ve ever worked with voter files, you know that they’re rife with minor errors — like a first name in the middle name column — that prevent exact matching. The scale of the matching problem was highlighted in a North Carolina Board of Elections study last year. The state used a long list of matching criteria, ranging from names and Social Security numbers and date of birth to a “soundex” comparison to test for names that were entered slightly off but sound the same. After additional matching criteria, the number of unmatched registered voters plummeted from 1.24 million to 318,643.
Even that figure likely overstates the number of registered voters without a valid identification, since many voters have valid identifications that aren’t issued by the states. Passports, student IDs and military IDs are often allowed.
Link to citizen opinion on potential new voter ID law in Oklahoma.
A reminder that election integrity laws and procedures are only as effective as the people implementing them, and why observers are a key part of the election process:
Poll workers at two Jefferson County locations on election day did not require voters to provide acceptable forms of photo identification, one of many documented mishaps identified in a state report.
Say this for the state’s new voter ID law — it gave Texas Democrats a patsy for the thumping they took on election night…
The overall number of votes cast in this year’s election was less than in 2010 — by about 271,000. Although that appears to be part of a national trend, Texas Democrats blamed the state’s voter ID law…
Even if those missing 271,000 Texas voters — the ones who voted in 2010 but not this year — had shown up, and even if they had all voted for the Democrat, [Davis] still would not have defeated Abbott — or even matched White’s total in 2010.
Voter ID didn’t cause Texas Democrats’ worse-than-they-expected election performance. Blame belongs to the Party’s tone-deaf consultants and candidates, led by top-of-the-ticket train wreck Wendy Davis, and on OFA-inspired Battleground Texas, which even the liberal Austin-American Statesman says “owns a significant chunk of the Davis effort — and its failure.”
Team Davis and Battleground Texas – which “by every measurable outcome… failed to live up to its promise” – paid millions to consultants; no word on how much they invested in helping Texas voters get free photo IDs.
Sources on Capitol Hill reveal to ELC that Myrna Perez has withdrawn her name for future consideration to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC). Republicans have called her the “Bad Apple” of the EAC due to her political extremism and use of exaggerated data in studies coming out of the Brennan Center. While the nomination has been stalled, it has become the political reality that no activist with such extreme positions on voter ID and citizen verification was going to gain enough votes to be confirmed. For example, the day the Supreme Court recently upheld the use of the Texas Photo ID law, Perez, the Deputy Director of the
non-partisan Brennan Center, put out this noxious statement through Twitter “This is a sad day for Texas, a sad day for democracy.”
With a 37-33 majority, House Republicans will be able to get a photo voter ID bill through that chamber. The question is what would happen to it upon arrival in the Senate, where Democrats retain a 25-17 voting edge. Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran, who made her support of photo voter ID a major theme of her successful re-election campaign, believes there is a chance of Senate approval…
Albuquerque voters in 2005 overwhelmingly approved a photo voter ID requirement for municipal elections.
Democrat Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino repeats the tired refrain that voter ID is “a solution in search of a problem” – he should try telling that to voters whose votes are stolen:
There were two cases of possible voting fraud in last week’s election reported to the Secretary of State’s Office. In both cases, voters said someone else had cast ballots in their names. Currently, a New Mexico voter has the option of providing an ID at the polls or “self-identifying” by stating his or her name, voter registration address and year of birth.
Professor Spencer Overton, who objected to the Carter-Baker Commission endorsement of photo ID.