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Mission Accomplished: Study Shows GOP-Backed Voter ID Laws Work to Suppress Turnout

"It's certainly possible that there were enough voters deterred that it flipped the election," says lead author study about 2016 voting in Wisconsin

A UW-Madison study found 11.2 percent of registered voters who didn't vote last November in Milwaukee and Dane counties were deterred by the state's voter ID law. (Photo: Wisconsin State Journal)

Highlighting the effectiveness of such laws to decrease voter turnout, a new study out of Wisconsin shows that somewhere between 16,000 and 23,000 people did not vote in the state's 2016 November elections due to a newly-imposed restrictive voter ID law passed in the state by the Republican legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker.

"Gov. Walker and his co-conspirators ought to be ashamed of what they have done."
—Analiese Eicher, One Wisconsin

According to the Urban Milwaukee:

Thousands and thousands of legal voters in Wisconsin were prevented from casting a ballot in the November 2016 election because of the state’s strict voter ID law, according to a study of registered voters conducted by University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Ken Mayer.

The study was based on a survey of registered voters in Dane and Milwaukee County funded by the Dane County Clerk’s Office.

The stunning results include findings that over 11 percent of voters eligible to cast a ballot but who did not cited the voter ID as the deterrent, translating into between roughly 16,000 and 23,000 votes between Dane and Milwaukee counties. The overwhelming majority of those surveyed who reported being unable to or deterred from voting in 2016 did cast a ballot in 2012.

Mayer explained to the New York Times that his study does not claim that the voter ID laws in Wisconsin actually swung the election in Donald Trump's favor, but he would not rule it out either.

"The survey did not ask any questions about how people would have voted or about their party identification," Mayer told the Times. "But it's certainly possible that there were enough voters deterred that it flipped the election."

What's obvious, as many point out, is that discouraging voter turnout is not simply an unfortunate side effect of such law, but the essential reason they have been—and continue to be—pursued by Republican-controlled legislatures in the first place.

Writing for Mother Jones, Ari Berman add:

The study also found socioeconomic and racial disparities among those impacted by the new law. “The burdens of voter ID fell disproportionately on low-income and minority populations,” writes Mayer. More than 20 percent of registrants coming from homes with incomes less than $25,000 say they were kept from voting by the law; 8.3 percent of white voters surveyed were deterred, compared with 27.5 percent of African Americans.

The new study also suggests that the number of voters disenfranchised by the law is far greater than the number of fraud cases that it was designed to stop. In 2014, during a federal trial where Wisconsin failed to present a single case of voter impersonation that the law would have prevented, a federal judge found that 300,000 voters lacked the strict forms of ID required by the state.

“The number of people who were deterred from voting is many thousands of times greater than the number of cases of voter impersonation that are prevented by this law,” Mayer says.

"Gov. Walker and his co-conspirators ought to be ashamed of what they have done," said Analiese Eicher, program director for One Wisconsin, a pro-democracy advocacy group in the state.

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