Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"We must make it easier, not harder, for poor and working people to vote and to participate in the political process," said Sen. Sanders. (Photo: David Sachs/SEIU/flickr/cc)

Sanders: New Report Shows Voter ID Laws Are 'Intended to Discourage Voting'

GAO study reveals two states with such laws had lower turnout, and more greatly impacted African-Americans

Andrea Germanos

Laws that require voters to present identification at the polls reduced voter turnout in the 2008 and 2012 general elections, according to a report released Wednesday from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Further, voter ID laws decreased turnout to a greater degree among new, young, and African-American voters.

The GAO's analysis looked at turnout in Kansas and Tennessee, which have voter ID laws, compared to four other states—Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, and Maine.

Republicans have touted voter ID laws as necessary to prevent voter fraud.

However, the congressional watchdog states that "the studies GAO reviewed identified few instances of in-person voter fraud," though it noted that there are challenges to gathering information needed to make such estimates.

The report comes as a result of a 2012 request from Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), after what they saw as an "alarming number" of new state laws that they said could make it more difficult to vote.

"We must make it easier, not harder, for poor and working people to vote and to participate in the political process," Sen. Sanders said in a statement following the release of the GAO report.

"These state laws aren’t really intended to discourage fraud, they’re intended to discourage voting. The GAO looked at study after study and found no credible evidence of voter fraud having had any impact whatsoever on the outcome of any election in recent history," he continued.

Sen. Leahy added, "The right to vote is fundamental and foundational to our democracy."

"Each generation has a role to play in safeguarding this constitutional right. This new analysis from GAO reaffirms what many in Congress already know: Threats to the right to vote still exist. That is why Congress must act to restore the fundamental protections of the Voting Rights Act that have been gutted by the Supreme Court," Leahy said.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Bodycam Footage Shows Ohio Police Shooting Jayland Walker 60+ Times

"The Department of Justice needs to step in to investigate immediately," said former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner.

Common Dreams staff ·


'Impeach Justice Clarence Thomas' Petition Nears 1 Million Signatures

"He has shown he cannot be an impartial justice and is more concerned with covering up his wife's coup attempts than the health of the Supreme Court," reads the petition.

Jake Johnson ·


'Tipping Point of No Return' Feared as Amazon Rainforest Fires Surge

"Up to now, the Biden administration has only legitimized the Brazilian government's anti-Indigenous and anti-environmental agenda," said Greenpeace USA.

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Urged to Embrace Windfall Tax as Exxon Says Profits Doubled in Second Quarter

"It's time for the president to demand that Congress pass a windfall profits tax on Big Oil and use the revenue to provide rebates to consumers NOW!" wrote Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Jake Johnson ·


Texas Supreme Court Allows Century-Old Abortion Ban to Take Effect

"Extremist politicians are on a crusade to force Texans into pregnancy and childbirth against their will, no matter how devastating the consequences."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo