Laws requiring voters to show identification when they cast a ballot impact have a greater impact on African Americans and younger voters than on other racial and age groups, according to a new analysis.
The report, issued Wednesday by the General Accounting Office [pdf], found that fewer African Americans have the types of identification — like a driver’s license or state-issued identification card — required to obtain a ballot than whites. As a consequence, turnout among African American voters fell by a larger percent than turnout among white voters in two states that implemented identification requirements between 2008 and 2012.
Black turnout dropped by 3.7 percentage points more than white turnout in Kansas, and by 1.5 percentage points more than whites in Tennessee after voter ID laws passed. Among 18 year olds, turnout dropped by 7.1 percentage points more in Kansas than it did among those aged 44 to 53 year-olds in Kansas. Turnout in Tennessee fell by 1.2 percentage points more among those aged 19 to 23 than among the older set.
The report came at the request of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), after a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year eliminated some parts of the Voting Rights Act. The senators said the report showed both the restrictive impacts of voter identification laws and the high costs of obtaining an identification.
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