WASHINGTON-Election turnout among young people of color, including African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans, may drop by nearly 700,000 voters in states with new photo ID laws, a decline potentially impacting presidential contests in the battleground states of Florida and Pennsylvania, according to a report released today by the Black Youth Project.
Completed by Cathy Cohen, a
"Voter turnout among young people may be significantly reduced because of these laws," said Cohen. "The demobilizing effects of these new laws are likely to be greater among young people of color than for young whites. We estimate that between 538,000 and 696,000 young people of color may be demobilized by photo ID laws that dilute the influence of young voters of color at the ballot box, potentially shifting outcomes in competitive races."
Over the last two years, more than two-thirds of the nation's 50 states have sought to increase restrictions on the kinds of identification that citizens must show before being allowed to vote, according to the report. As a result, nine states now have laws requiring citizens to show government-issued photo identification before casting a ballot. Eight other states enacted similar measures, but offer a limited set of alternatives for those without IDs. Only two of these laws were enacted prior to the 2008 election.
Some of the photo ID proposals have been defeated or denied. For instance, the U.S. Department of Justice invoked the Voting Rights Act and refused to grant clearance to laws passed in South Carolina and Texas, and the Wisconsin law was declared unconstitutional earlier this year. Legal action is ongoing in other states, including
"Engaging young people-our future leaders-in the political process and motivating them to vote should be among our highest priorities as a democracy," said Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League. "While we are disheartened to see the apparently systematic way in which the minority youth vote is being undermined, we are committed to meeting this assault with redoubled efforts to ensure that everyone who is eligible to vote can and does vote. Nothing less than the future of our political process is at stake."
Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, expressed concern over the laws. "The voting booth is the one place in
Rogowski said the new laws may impact the presidential contest, as well as at least 16 competitive House races across the country where photo identification requirements will likely disproportionately impact minority voters.
Meanwhile, the report estimated that if
While these laws are likely to disproportionately demobilize all youth of color, they may have more severe consequences for young Blacks. Citing data from the
"African Americans possess photo IDs at lower rates than other people of color, but Black youth also exhibited the greatest increase in voter turnout in 2008 compared to 2004," Cohen said. "These laws, therefore, create additional challenges for sustaining high levels of participation among African American and other youth of color and highlight the need for campaign, community and civic organizations to devote increased efforts to mobilizing young voters of color in November as well as contesting these laws over the long run."
The entire report can be downloaded at: http://research.blackyouthproject.com/files/2012/09/Youth-of-Color-and-Photo-ID-Laws.pdf