A few days ago, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensbarger observed on this site, “a sudden surge in new support for voter ID. Stacey Abrams and Georgia senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, for example, have suddenly become big supporters of voter ID despite repeatedly referring to the provisions of Georgia’s new election law, which imposes an ID requirement on absentee ballots, as ‘Jim Crow 2.0.’”
But the question remains why some of the Democrats who had most staunchly demonized voter ID were willing to make such a sudden and dramatic about-face.
Perhaps the evidence was mounting that Democrats were expending energy and political capital to prevent measures that created no measurable disadvantage to their party or candidates. On May 22, the Quarterly Journal of Economics unveiled the results of an extensive study:
U.S. states increasingly require identification to vote—an ostensible attempt to deter fraud that prompts complaints of selective disenfranchisement. Using a difference-in-differences design on a panel data set with 1.6 billion observations, 2008–2018, we find that the laws have no negative effect on registration or turnout, overall or for any group defined by race, gender, age, or party affiliation… Overall, our findings suggest that efforts to improve elections may be better directed at other reforms.
This deep dive into the data suggested that Democrats were taking an unpopular stand for no real benefit. In that situation… why wouldn’t Democrats try to use voter ID as a bargaining chip to win other policy concessions?
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