The Hispanic Institute

Do Voter Identification Laws Supress Minority Voting? Yes. We Did the Research

- by Zoltan L. Hajnal, Nazita Lajevardi and Lindsay Nielson, The Washington Post

The Justice Department just got a new boss: Jeff Sessions. He is raising alarms in the civil rights community. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is concerned about his “record of hostility” toward the Voting Rights Act and the enforcement of civil rights. The NAACP-Legal Defense Fund lamented that it is “unimaginable that he could be entrusted to serve as the chief law enforcement officer for this nation’s civil rights laws.” No one knows for sure how Sessions will perform as attorney general — the former Republican senator from Alabama did, after all, once vote to renew the Voting Rights Act, in 2006 — but for many his record is deeply troubling.

Voter identification laws have spread rapidly in the past 10 years

What we do know is that voter identification laws are spreading rapidly around the country. Before 2006, no state required photo identification to vote on Election Day. Today 10 states have this requirement. All told, a total of 33 states — representing more than half the nation’s population — have some version of voter identification rules on the books.

As we detail below, our research shows that these laws lower minority turnout and benefit the Republican Party.

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