Beyond the Political Rhetoric: Will Georgia’s Voter ID Law Reduce Minority Turnout?


By: Sun Choy
To be sure, Georgia’s voter ID law that requires a voter to produce a photo ID to vote has been used as a political football by both sides of the aisle over the past few election cycles.  Depending on your point of view, the voter ID law is either an attempt by Republicans to disenfranchise key voting blocs for Democrats, or prudent legislation passed to ensure the integrity of our elections.  Beyond the political rhetoric and legal challenges, a fundamental question is whether the voter ID law in fact reduces minority turnout.
Accordingly, to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, the answer is no.  The article notes that “turnout among black and Hispanic voters increased from 2006 to 2010, dramatically outpacing population growth for those groups over the same period.”  At the same time, “Georgia’s top elections official could not point to a single case of ballot fraud the voter ID law had prevented.”  Notably, however, records show that since 2008, 2,244 provisional ballots were cast by voters who lacked a photo ID and only 658 returned with an ID.  The end result is that the remaining 1,586 votes were not counted.  It should be interesting to see if this trend of increased minority turnout continues.