New study confirms that voter ID laws are very racist

Bryce Covert

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Conservative lawmakers routinely tout voter ID laws as a solution to voter fraud, but multiple investigations — including investigations conducted by Republican supporters of voter ID — confirm that those laws are a solution in search of a problem. The kind of fraud prevented by such laws is only slightly more common than elves.

A new study by political scientists Zoltan L. Hajnal, Nazita Lajevardi, and Lindsay Nielson explains what these laws do accomplish, however. According to Hajnal and his co-authors, turnout among Hispanic voters is “7.1 percentage points lower in general elections and 5.3 points lower in primaries” in states with strict voter ID laws. The laws also reduce turnout among African-American and Asian-American voters.

White turnout, according to their study, is “largely unaffected.”

 

Hajnal and his co-authors also offer a possible explanation for why conservatives favor these laws. “By instituting strict voter ID laws,” they explain, “states can alter the electorate and shift outcomes toward those on the right.” In states with such laws “the influence of Democrats and liberals wanes and the power of Republicans grows.”

As a result of voter ID laws’ disparate impact on people of color, such laws are illegal. The Voting Rights Act prohibits any state voting restriction “which results in a denial or abridgment of the right of any citizen . . . to vote on account of race or color.” And indeed, some courts have struck down voter ID laws because of their disparate impact on minority voters.

Most notably, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, one of the most conservative federal appeals courts in the country, held that Texas’ voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act. Their opinion noted data indicating that “Blacks were 1.78 times more likely than Whites, and Latinos 2.42 times more likely, to lack” voter ID.”

Yet, despite the racist impact of voter ID and a federal law prohibiting such impacts, it is far from clear that the Supreme Court will enforce the Voting Rights Act when it hears a challenge to voter ID. Last year, a federal appeals court struck down North Carolina’s omnibus voter suppression law, after finding that the law was intentionally designed to target black voters and to minimize its impact on whites. Yet all four conservative justices voted to reinstate this law before the 2016 election.

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Reposted from ThinkProgress.

Bryce Covert is the Economic Policy Editor for ThinkProgress. She was previously editor of the Roosevelt Institute’s Next New Deal blog and a senior communications officer. She is also a contributor for The Nation and was previously a contributor for ForbesWoman. Her writing has appeared on The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The Nation, The Atlantic, The American Prospect, and others. She is also a board member of WAM!NYC, the New York Chapter of Women, Action & the Media. Follow her on Twitter @brycecovert

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work