Study: Republican state voting laws "will disenfranchise 10,000,000 Hispanic US citizens"

Today, a civil rights group called Advancement Project will publish a report on the new voting laws passed in 23 Republican-led states. The report (not named in Patricia Zengerle's Reuters article and not yet up on the Advancement Project site) claims that 10,000,000 Hispanic voters will be disenfranchised by the new laws, which place hurdles between voters and the ballot box, such as presenting certain types of ID. The rubric for these laws has been that "everyone" has the types of ID specified in the statutes, and the common refrain in response to critics is "Who doesn't have a [driver's license|passport|non-driver ID|etc]?" The Advancement Project's point appears to be that these specific 10 million citizens, who are otherwise legally entitled to vote, don't have the necessary papers or can't meet the qualifiers imposed by the state governments.

According to Reuters, national polls show 70 percent or more support for Obama among Hispanic voters.

The new laws include purges of people suspected of not being citizens in 16 states that unfairly target Latinos, the civil rights group Advancement Project said in the study to be formally released on Monday.

Laws in effect in one state and pending in two others require proof of citizenship for voter registration. That imposes onerous and sometimes expensive documentation requirements on voters, especially targeting naturalized American citizens, many of whom are Latino, the liberal group said.

Nine states have passed restrictive photo identification laws that impose costs in time and money for millions of Latinos who are citizens but do not yet have the required identification, it said.

Voting laws may disenfranchise 10 million Hispanic U.S. citizens: study (Thanks, Deborah!)


  1. It’s downright hilarious reading how conservatives can rationalize this horseshit. Since voting is a more important right than, say, driving (which is not a right), it somehow makes sense to make voting more difficult. No, really, they believe this. It’s sadly hilarious.

      1. Oh dear deity. Sure hope the idea do not spread across the Atlantic. It’s like a rollback of the last 100 years of democratic development.

        1. Really bad ideas are one of our few remaining exports. Our factories in Hollywood, Wall Street and Washington D.C. are especially productive.

      2. Doesn’t surprise me. When I argue that a felony conviction should not disenfranchise people for life, a common counter argument is that criminals have forfeited their voting privileges.

        1. Canada used to have a law preventing inmates in federal institutions from voting. The law was overturned by the courts. As I understand it (I am probably wrong about a lot of this) the argument was that disenfranchising a citizen is essentially a coup, as the citizen’s vote is what gives government its authority. The justification for taking aways the prisoners’ votes did not meet the high standards such a move should require. The government may reinstate the law but must make the case for it, rather that simply doing so arbitrarily.

    1.  You need to listen to them when they are talking to the faithful. They don’t believe their crap at all. They know exactly what they are trying to do.

      1. Yup. In Pennsylvania,

        Republican House Majority Leader Mike Turzai made waves in June when he said at the Republican State Committee meeting that the voter ID law “is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

        “We are focused on making sure that we meet our obligations that we’ve talked about for years,” Turzai said in a speech to committee members,Politics PA reported.

        Turzai then listed a handful of accomplishments such as “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

        1. Well, at least they’re honest about being corrupt.

          The stupid thing here is that requiring specific kinds of ID isn’t even all that bad, as long as at least one of those kinds of ID is easily and cheaply available to anyone who needs it, and the government gives sufficient publicity to the fact that you need to get that ID card if you don’t have a passport or driver’s license.

  2. Doesn’t that number seem high? We live in a country with around 300 million citizens of those I think around 50 something million are Latino. Those of voting age is probably a bit smaller than that. Saying 10 million would be disenfranchised is saying over 20% of all non-felon Latino citizens of voting age do not have a passport, a driver’s license, a state ID or any other form of legal photo identification and cannot afford or would be highly inconvenienced to go get one. That seems unlikely to me. I have no doubt that it is true for some people, but 10 million!!

    1. Lots of people who live in cities don’t get driver’s licenses. And passports are for people who travel. It seems completely probable to me.

      1. Also, many elderly people allow their licenses to expire if they no longer drive.

        Yes, it’s possible for most voters to get I.D., but the real question is if it’s worth forcing millions of eligible citizens to go through that trouble and expense just to solve a virtually nonexistent problem.

        1. Dude, have you have actually changed your Disqus profile to “Why is Boing Boing removing comments that question blatant product shilling and affiliate linking? If that were happening on another site, they’d complain.”?

          Because we are totally OK with that on other sites, and have been doing it ourselves since the beginning of Amazon time.

    2. The specific number seems high to me too, but does that really matter?  Whether it’s 10k or 10 million, it’s too many.  

      Voting is the most basic right we have in a country with a government like our’s.  Having it restricted and stripped away from people for the first time since Jim Crow is terrible.  Even more so because it’s being done to help one political party win.

      Massively depressing to see the lack of coverage, and outrage over this.

      1. Unless it’s a bad study. Those happen. Asking questions helps to spot them.

        Also, reading the study. Which I didn’t. I’ll be quite now.

  3. Naturalized citizens are given a certificate upon becoming citizens.  But is that certificate accepted for voting?  That being said, it should be unconstitutional to change voting laws so close to an election. Even if some of these laws are struck down, and even if they don’t actually affect these voters, people might be scared to vote if they don’t have the ID. Causing doubt and confusion is good enough to keep people from voting.

    1. Why would you assume these 10 million aren’t natural born citizens? Most of them are probably elderly (over 13% of the US population is over 65 and non-driving elderly don’t really need ID).

      1. While there are some 52 million Hispanics in the US (US Census estimate as of July 2011), they tend to be significantly younger than the US population as a whole — median ages of 27 years and 36.9 years, respectively.  In my experience, people usually keep their drivers’ licenses after retirement as long as possible, so I doubt very much that there are more than 5 million non-driving elderly Hispanics in the US.

        1. In my experience from being in close friendship with four city-dwelling Americans between the ages of 66 and 82, seniors do keep physical possession of their drivers licenses even after they stop driving regularly. 

          But, once they’ve stopped driving regularly, they allow the licenses to expire, and don’t bother to renew them since many states require drivers over 65 to pass a test in order to renew and most non-driving seniors don’t find it worth the bother to run that gauntlet.

          Once the licenses expire, of course, they cannot be used as ID for voter registration purposes.

          Thus I can believe that upwards of 10 million older citizens won’t have the most common form of ID used to pass voter checks at the polling stations, thus disenfranchising them in these upcoming elections.

          1. The report does not claim that 10 million older citizens would be disenfranchised.  It claims that 10 million Hispanic citizens — almost half of all voting-age Hispanic US citizens — would be potentially disenfranchised.

  4. That seems like a high number.  There were 50 or so million Hispanics living in the U.S. according to the census bureau, as of 2011 (only 311 million total). That figure, like any census figure, is NOT citizens-only.  Hispanic U.S. citizens are only a subset of that population.  So according to this study-to-be, MORE than 1/5 of Hispanic American citizens lack a photo ID or are otherwise affected?  If this is true, these state laws represent mind-blowing proto-fraud.  But I’m going to err on the side of caution and say this study is a little selective/one-sided/false.  I mean, I’m on the study’s side – even if there is ZERO net effect from these laws – which there won’t be – I’m appalled by them. (yeah, I know I was completely beaten to the punch on the whole 1/5 gripe)

      1. ‘Proto-‘: relating to a precursor.  If Obama loses this election as a result of selective, deliberate disenfranchisement, I can’t think of a better definition of ‘voter fraud.’  Hence, ‘proto-fraud’.  These laws set the stage for a massive fraud.  (also edited for clarity, thank you).

    1. The report appears (from a quick but critical reading) to be careful to talk only about eligible voters.  It claims that only about half of Hispanic citizens are registered to vote, and only 31% (of all Hispanic citizens) voted in 2010.  As a side note, their numbers show that about 60% of registered Hispanic and Asian citizens voted in 2010, while that number was almost 70% for African Americans and slightly over 70% for non-Hispanic whites.

      I think it would be much more enlightening to show some time series: Is Hispanic voting increasing (as a percentage of eligible Hispanic citizens)?  Is there a clear difference in change-in-participation between states that implement ballot purges, voter ID laws, or other policies and those that do not?

      1. The report appears to be careful to talk only about eligible voters.

        Surely eligible voters are the only ones that matter when discussing this?

        I mean, if we banned voting for all minorities currently over the age of 18, we’d have disenfranchised 100% of minorities, right? We wouldn’t say that we’d only disenfranchised (say) 70% of minorities, because some of them are children who are not eligible voters.

        1. Yes, citizens eligible to vote are the subset we should focus on.  I wasn’t sure what feetleet’s comment about the Census not being citizens-only was driving at, so I thought I’d point out that the study does appear to focus on the correct group.  (On the other hand, 10 million is roughly half of all Hispanics eligible to vote in the US, so I am skeptical that the 10 million number is really defensible.)

  5. Disenfranchising citizens of the United States should be treated (and punished) as treason.  I mean…when it comes down to pissing on the constitution it doesn’t get much more blatant. The fact that these bastards haven’t been dragged out into the street, tarred and feathered, then tried and sentenced by a court of law pretty much says everything worth saying.  The american dream is over.

    1. If they didn’t go after the Border Ruffians who made war on Kansans to try to force them to accept slavery, if they didn’t go after the Confederates, what makes you think they’d do anything about these guys either?

  6. The whole point is to block anyone who might vote for Obama.  This is the only way they can win this election.  They can win it by cheating.  If they had their way only White male land-owners would be able to vote, no Hispanics, no blacks, no women, no Asians, no native-Americans, no poor people, etc.  They must have POWER, more POWER and that means they need to take power away from people who are not them!

    1. To be fair, I have the impression that the Republicans are not – in general – specifically racist. They wouldn’t mind rich black or Hispanic people voting (provided they vote Republican), but they’re dead set against poor black or Hispanic people voting.

      I think the modern Republican party is more likely to be in favor of a property holder qualification for the vote than a color bar.

  7. On the flip side you hear about dead people voting. In my state you just need  your voters registratoin card. If Uncle Lou is dead you could take his card and vote for him, I would have had no clue.

    Now – was it a big enough problem to warrant requiring voter ID? I dunno. Sorta sounds like a solution to a problem that wasn’t much of a problem that now is causing problems by itself.

    1. where exactly did you “hear” about a legitimate case of dead people voting?  most number i’ve seen had suspected voting fraud nation wide in the last few years at under a hundred cases, and at that it was only “suspected” not proven.

      1. Ballotpedia lists quite a few studies of the problem.  Michigan’s state government found that 1300 dead people were recorded as having voted between 2008 and mid-2011, and although they claim that clerical error was at fault in almost all of those cases, that probably means a lot of people ended up voting using someone else’s name.  Not all states keep records that would allow them to figure that out, though.  For example, Texas apparently found 239 cases of dead people voting in their May 2012 primaries; they were unable to do that for any previous elections because counties were not required to tell the state who cast votes.

        If you really think there have been fewer than a hundred cases of vote fraud in the US in the last few years, I’ve got a bridge to sell you…

        1. Dude, I don’t think you understand what “clerical error” means in that case — it doesn’t mean that lots of dead people voted or people ended up voting under someone else’s name, because of an error: it means that clerical error is responsible for mistakenly thinking that 1300 dead people voted.

          The review found more than 1,300 deceased people were recorded as having voted during the audit period. …

          Elections officials say in the report that they’re working on fixing the issues raised in the audit. And they say clerical error is the culprit behind the voting concerns, not voter fraud.

          According to the audit, election officials said that “in every instance where it appears a deceased person or incarcerated person voted and local records were available, a clerical error was established as the reason for the situation.”

          Take your other claim: 239 dead Texans voted in 2012. You state this as if it were fact, but it is anything but. Non-partisan PolitiFact rated this “False.”

          In a follow-up study, they first found those for whom the voter’s SSN actually seemed to match with the dead person’s SSN (since the majority of these 239 did not have matching SSNs). They then found that, even of these seemingly more-reliable “dead voters”, at least 60% of those were not actual matches — the dead person had a different name, DOB or — on closer inspection, SSN than the voter.

          Dude, these “studies” are always done by quickly matching names of voters with names of dead people. Every single time a follow-up study finds that at least 90% of those flagged in the screening weren’t actually dead, but just happened to have the same (or similar) name as a dead person.

          And yet you go around quoting the initial numbers as if someone actually vetted them.

          1. While your reading of “clerical error” is a reasonable one, I do not think it is the only reasonable one; without more detail from the people who looked at the study, I don’t think we can say for sure that the clerical error was in thinking that a legitimate voter was dead rather than recording someone’s name.

            PolitiFact actually rates Texas’s claim about the 239 dead voters “mostly false”, apparently because they concluded that Texas’s investigation to prove that ballots were definitely cast in dead peoples’ names could not be repeated for a wider group of people.  Unless PolitiFact knows more about Texas’s investigation than the state itself does, I’ll continue to cite the court testimony from the Texas officials.  Do you have a link to the alleged follow-up study?

        2. they claim that clerical error was at fault in almost all of those cases, that probably means a lot of people ended up voting using someone else’s name.

          That means that they didn’t vote under their own names. That’s not fraud, nor does it change the outcome of the vote.

          If you really think there have been fewer than a hundred cases of vote fraud in the US in the last few years, I’ve got a bridge to sell you…

          I’m not going to enter into a complex real estate transaction with someone who can’t even understand his own citations, thanks.

          1. That Joe votes — accidentally or not — using Bob’s name does not keep him from voting under his own name later.

    2. On the flip side you hear about dead people voting.

      I heard about alligators living in New York sewers once. When is the government going to finally take some serious action to combat the possible-but-quite-unlikely scourge of man-eating reptiles plaguing our nation’s subterranean urban infrastructure??

        1. Don’t you understand? VoterID laws are needed to prevent alligators voting! Luckily, as everyone knows, alligators can’t drive, so by insisting that voters prevent a driver’s license, we can prevent the massive alligator voting fraud that would otherwise occur.

  8. Polls often report on how “likely voters” would vote if the election were held today.  I wonder if those polling organizations are asking whether their respondents have photo ID, and figuring that into the results.

    But then, why do the politicians even bother passing these Jim Crow II laws?  It’s easier and quicker to just adjust the output of the voting machines.  Who’d bother to challenge them?  We’ve already seen how cooperative the supreme court is.

    They’ll buy it or they’ll steal it, or both; but one way or another, they’ll have the election. 

    Play a verse of Taps for American democracy.

  9. Pennsylvania has 19 U.S. representatives, and 12.7 million people live there. For the sake of argument, assume every person there is an eligible voter and U.S. citizen.  If Pennsylvania’s law disenfranchises even 700,000 people, Pennsylvania should, according to the 14th Amendment, have one less seat in Congress in 2014.  This is because…..

    14th Amendment, Section 2: “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state […] But when the right to vote at any election […] for President […] is denied to […] citizens of the United States, OR IN ANY WAY ABRIDGED […] the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in [proportion].”  Whether Obama wins or loses, I want to see a suit against each state that successfully imposes a voter ID law before the election, to lower that state’s number of seats in the house, as necessary to reflect the number of eligible of voters that state disenfranchised.  Make it happen, Internet.  

  10. A study about actual voter fraud, funded by the Carnegie and Knight Foundations, went through “5,000 court documents, official reports, and media reports” since 2000. The three substantive findings of the study are:

    1) Any kind of election fraud is exceptionally rare. Among 600 million votes cast, 2,068 cases of “election fraud” were alleged: this is a .000003 incidence of alleged election fraud.

    2) Voter fraud is even rarer. Only 30.6% of the “election fraud” cases involved “voter fraud”. That’s 633 cases in 600,000,000. Translation: that’s a .000001 incidence of all voter fraud.

    3) In-person voter fraud is, according to the report, “virtually non-existent”. With 600 million votes cast, there were only 10 cases of alleged in-person voter fraud: this is a .000000001 incidence of alleged in-person voter fraud.  This is the purported reason that Voter ID laws have been implemented in so many states.

    More here:

    1. First let me say I am against the voter ID laws.   
      This may be a dumb question but if states have not required ID in the past then how would we know if there was voter fraud and how much has happened?  
      When I voted in 2000 the woman in front of me gave 3 entirely different names before she found one that was on the voter roll.  Maybe I just happened to be in line behind the one case of fraud that day or maybe she really didn’t know her name.
      I feel like both sides are playing fast and loose with the facts on this issue.

      1. This may be a dumb question but if states have not required ID in the past then how would we know if there was voter fraud and how much has happened?

        Because if it happened on anything approaching a regular basis there would be a helluva lot more cases of “oh, my voter roll shows that you’ve already been in today.”

        Those Brietbart & O’Keefe morons got a few stooges together last election to demonstrate how easy it is to cast a fraudulent vote—a point which was somewhat undermined by the fact that they were caught in the process of doing so. Could it happen? Sure. Does it happen? Possibly. Does it happen on a statistically significant basis? Absolutely not.

        1. Your answer doesn’t really address the question: if I, as someone who has no right to vote in a US election, managed to get my name on the voter roll, why would anyone ever show up claiming I had cast their vote?

          1. If you managed to do that then voter ID laws wouldn’t be able to do anything to stop you anyway. You can get a driver’s license or other ID even if you’re ineligible to vote (say, as a resident alien or a convicted felon). There’s no checkbox on a state-issued ID that says “eligible to vote.”

            Your ID only proves that you’re the person listed on the voter rolls, which are presumed to be legitimate (even if they may still include the names of some recently deceased voters).

      2. Good question.  Since the study was based on reports of alleged fraud, these are people who were charged with a crime.  

        FWIW, challenging the results of an election is typically left to the candidates.  This is because those in the running are most vested in the results. (In my experience, some candidates can be entirely paranoid, and the actual review of challenged elections is quite rigorous.)

        And normally, unless there is an unusually close election, or other signs of suspected fraud, the results of the vast majority of elections are not challenged — because the victory is assured by such a large percentage of votes that no challenge is necessary.  

        So that could suggest, to the suspicious, that fraud is everywhere and not being caught.  

        However, I believe the more-likely scenario is the same as what was found in the study, which is based on the results which are actually available: Voter fraud is so rare as to be, essentially, nonexistent.

      3. Ok, let’s put it this way.  If voter ID really represents a major loophole, then BOTH PARTIES are going to exploit it, laissez-faire-style.  But if voter ID turns out to be a red herring, only liberals lose.   

  11. I live in Canada, and every time I’ve gone to vote I’ve had to present ID of some sort.  Actually being able to prove you’re eligible to vote seems logical to me.

    1. It would be logical IF such a policy was likely to prevent more fraudulent votes than legitimate ones. Thus far, there is every reason to believe the opposite is true.

      1.  I don’t think that’s the case in Canada, where I have to show ID.  But then I think universal healthcare is cool too.

        1. I have no data on voter fraud or disenfranchisement in Canada, nor do I have any real stake in your elections, so I wish you well with whatever system you choose. But the data down here shows that these new rules keep plenty of legitimate voters away just to solve a virtually nonexistent problem.

    2. There’s nothing wrong with requiring ID. There’s something wrong with requiring a specific kind of ID that not everybody has. Make a basic free ID card that’s only good for voting and buying alcohol, and this law is fine. Well, assuming this law doesn’t go into effect just before an election; that’s just asking for trouble.

  12. It is logical. I was able to register to vote when I got my driver’s license when I was in my late thirties. How did I get my driver’s license? First I had to take a bus downtown then pay a $30 fee to get a copy of my birth certificate, since I didn’t have the original. Then I had to take a different bus to a DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) office. Well, the bus doesn’t exactly go to the DMV. It goes near there. And it’s only every other bus on that route that goes near the DMV, so I had to wait over an hour at the bus station to get the right bus. Then I had to cross a busy road and climb a hill to get to the DMV. Then I got to wait in line, pay a fee, and take a test to get a learner’s permit. After practicing driving for a few weeks I went back and got my driver’s license. I could also register to vote at the DMV.

    Did I mention that there are lawmakers in my state who want to take away the ability to register to vote at the DMV? Apparently they think it’s too easy.

    And did I mention that there are some lawmakers who think there should be a separate voter ID because it’s so easy to get a driver’s license or other state-issued ID at the DMV?

    [Edit: this was intended as a reply to Jeremy Wilson’s comment above.]

    1. To summerise: People might have shit to do, not waste time at the DMV, on the bus, to get a Birth certificate, because they have job(s), kids, illness or other.

      It’s logical if you’ve got it. You don’t have ID, it’s not.

      1. It’s not just time. It’s also money. Just considering the time I’m lucky that I have a job that allows me to take an entire day off from work during the 9am-4pm, Tuesday-Friday period that the DMV is open.

        People who don’t have an ID don’t necessarily have that kind of luxury.

        They also don’t necessarily have more than sixty dollars–which the buses, Hall of Records, and DMV all required in cash–to spend getting what many lawmakers insist is a free ID.

  13. One other thing people are missing when they say (not necessarily in a mean way) that people should just go get an ID – where are all the efforts by the people so concerned with voter fraud (that doesn’t exist) to GET all these folks to the proper places so they can get an ID?  Oh, yea.  Right.

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