Voter ID laws suppressed 200,000 votes in Wisconsin, which Trump won by 22,000 votes
Strict voter ID laws are a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Actual instances of voter fraud are statistically nonexistent, and a large scale voter fraud conspiracy has never been uncovered in the United States.
They’re pushed by Republicans across the country as a backdoor way of suppressing voter turnout, particularly among poor people and minorities who already have a hard time getting access to the polls; because when voter turnout is high, it tends to favor Democrats. And why, in a democracy, would we ever want to make sure the most amount of people possible can participate in voting?
A new study The Nation reported on Tuesday follows that argument to its logical end: The strict voter ID law in Wisconsin and other states may have helped suppress enough voters to give Trump the edge over Hillary Clinton. Who needs Russian hacking when your own government works against you?
The study looked at federal court records for voting in Wisconsin and found 300,000 registered voters, or nine percent of the electorate, lacked the strict forms of ID required to vote in Wisconsin. That helped reduce turnout in that state by 200,000 votes; Trump won the state by 22,748 votes. Here is your regular reminder that Donald Trump lost the popular vote by 2.8 million votes but is somehow still president because of the Electoral College, which is a thing that functions to disenfranchise people in its own right.
The Nation cites as an example Eddie Lee Holloway Jr., a 58-year-old African-American who tried to vote in Wisconsin. He made seven different trips to agencies and spent more than $200 in an effort to correct his birth certificate, but was not able to obtain a voter ID in the state.
The study was conducted by Priorities USA, which The Nation describes as “a progressive advocacy group and super PAC that supported Clinton in 2016 and Barack Obama in 2012,” and Civics Analytics, a data science firm founded by a former Obama campaign official. So it’s not an independent, peer-reviewed study, but The Nation notes that it matches a 2014 study by the Government Accountability Office, which concluded that strict voter-ID laws in Kansas and Tennessee helped reduce turnout enough to swing a close race.
Wisconsin had the biggest impact from voter ID laws, but the laws also affected African-American voter turnout in Mississippi and Virginia, according to the study. Flipping Wisconsin wouldn’t have been enough to give Clinton the Electoral College victory, but would have added to her already huge popular vote lead. But voter ID laws are going to keep coming and coming: Iowa just passed one last week.
Remember when Trump falsely claimed millions voted illegally in the election, which would be a major scandal that would threaten the very fabric of our democracy, and then never followed up on it? Don’t expect the real problem of voter suppression to get addressed anytime soon, especially not when only the laws are rewritten so only the richest white people with no preexisting conditions are allowed to vote.