Voter ID Laws Believed To Have Significantly Dropped Wisconsin's Black Voter Turnout In 2016
This specific decline is more than four times the national decline.
It is Election Day in many states across the country, and many prominent black figures are encouraging citizens to get out and vote.
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People marched, protested, fought & died for this right. Let’s use it. Vote. #ElectionDay— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) November 7, 2017
In related news, a recent study from the Center for American Progress that investigated black voter turnout in Wisconsin in 2016 has been released. And according to the Wisconsin State Journal, things in that swing state aren't looking good.
Black voter turnout dipped about 19 percent from 2012 to 2016. Voter turnout dropped across the nation in that period, but the drop in black voters in Wisconsin was four times the national decline.
Voter turnout also dropped among the Latinx and Asian communities in Wisconsin by 5.8 and 5.7 percent, respectively.
There was white voter decline as well, but it wasn't such a sharp dip (2.2 percent).
The study, which took data from the U.S. Census, polls and state voter files, pointed out that there was one key difference between elections in 2012 and 2016: a state photo ID requirement.
The requirement that all voters present a photo ID before being allowed to vote was put into effect for the first time in the 2016 presidential election. At the time, activists argued that the law amounted to voter suppression, as the state's minorities were less likely to have the government issued photo IDs necessary to cast a ballot.
Non-commercial driver's licences and IDs range in price from $28 to $35 in Wisconsin, according to the state's Department of Transportation. According to the National Council of State Legislatures, Wisconsin's minimum wage is currently $7.25. Some critics of the ID law argue that asking those making minimum wage to give up four hours of work so that they can vote is too much to ask.
Democratic State Representative David Bowen is one of those against the law, and said that the study's results “very much confirm some of the suspicions” he previously had about the new requirement disproportionately affecting minority voters. “It definitely had a significant impact on turnout in 2016,” he said.
Supporters of the law note that there is a process in place for voters lacking a photo ID to apply for special receipts that can be presented to voting judges in place of an ID. However, Bowen says that program was and has been poorly publicized, and that few of the state's citizens know anything about it. The representative also suggested that this was done purposefully.
“Leaving that confusion out there worked for Republicans to be able to disenfranchise voters,” Bowen said.
Governor Scott Walker’s office and Republican legislative leaders who backed the voter-ID did not respond to the Journal's requests for statements on the law.