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STUDY: Racial Attitudes, Not Party Affiliation, Determine Support for Voter ID

A new study, conducted by the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication, found that support for Voter ID laws is directly linked to one’s racial resentments. For those who still believe that Voter ID will stop the 0.0002 percent of Americans who commit voter fraud, this study is further proof that the right-leaning-media-supported movement is nothing more than legalized voter suppression.

The study also found that one’s ability to acquire acceptable identification is also affected by race.

The Brennan Center released a report illustrating, among other challenges to obtaining identification, the lack of overlap between offices that issue valid voter IDs and high populations of people of color. More than 1 million blacks and half a million Latinos live more than 10 miles away from such offices.

One map in the study illustrates that in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, driver’s license offices that are open more than twice a week are located largely away from rural black populations. An additional map illustrates that areas with high Latino populations also lack offices that issue IDs that will be considered valid if Texas requires them in the upcoming election.

Since the Tea Party takeover of 2010, Voter ID laws have been a staple of the Far Right’s aggressive agenda:

Voter ID laws require people to show some form of government identification before they can cast a ballot. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 32 states have some form of voter ID law, with varying degrees of strictness. Since Republicans won control of 20 state governments in the 2010 midterms, at least 11 states have pushed through voter ID laws. Supporters of the laws say that they help prevent voter fraud, in spite of the fact that studies have shown electoral fraud to be exceedingly rare.

Black, Latino, low-income and younger voters are all less likely to have official government identification — and are all also more likely to vote for Democrats.

“These findings suggest that Americans’ attitudes about race play an important role in driving their views on voter ID laws,” said Paul Brewer, one of the researchers who supervised the study.

The racial implications in the Voter ID movement have been heightened by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and his controversial state voter ID law. After being called a “poll tax” by Attorney General Eric Holder, Perry defended his flawed policy and accused Holder of inciting racial tension.

Sen. Rodney Ellis of Texas recently claimed during a federal trial that both the delay of the 2001 hate crimes bill and the passage of the current voter ID bill were racially motivated:

Ellis, D-Houston, said the voter ID bill was passed by Republicans in the Legislature to suppress minority voter turnout, which is overwhelmingly Democrat.

“They knew what they were doing, and they intended to do it,” said Ellis, a longtime champion of the state’s hate crimes bill that passed in 2001. “This bill has everything to do with race,” he told a three-judge federal panel and invoked James Byrd — a black man who was dragged to death in 1998 by three white supremacists in Jasper — for which his bill was named.

However, border states with traditional immigration-based apprehensions are not the only springs in which voter suppression hope is eternal. In Iowa, Secretary of State Matt Schultz has made it his “top priority” to mandate voter identification laws. This despite the fact that, after investigating the state’s three possible voter fraud cases, it turned out no actual voter fraud has ever taken place in Iowa.

In Pennsylvania, where State Rep. Mike Turzai infamously stated that the passage of the state’s voter ID law would “help Mitt Romney win the state,” there is a rush to help the 700,000 affected voters obtain ID’s before the election.

186,830 registered voters in Philadelphia alone do not have PENNDOT-issued ID’s. Just as the study found, those most likely to not have ID’s are also the most likely to vote Democrat:

Unfortunately, those most likely to have problems [with ID] are being the most severely suppressed — the elderly, minorities, those with a disability,” said Roberta Winters, the issues and action vice president for the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters, which is part of an ACLU suit seeking to block the rules. “Their voices are threatened to be silenced and they’re already barely listened to.”

Perhaps the most interesting find in the study, though, is that large numbers of self-identified Democrats and Independents who display racial resentment agree with Voter ID laws as well.

CPC researchers found an interesting pattern in the data: it is Democrats and liberals whose opinions on voter ID laws are most likely to depend on their racial attitudes. Republicans and conservatives overwhelmingly support voter ID laws regardless of how much “racial resentment” they express. In contrast, Democrats and liberals with the highest “racial resentment” express much more support for voter ID laws than those with the least resentment.


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