NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Strict ID Laws Don't Stop Voters: Evidence from a U.S. Nationwide Panel, 2008-2016

Enrico Cantoni, Vincent Pons

NBER Working Paper No. 25522
Issued in February 2019
NBER Program(s):Political Economy Program

U.S. states increasingly require identification to vote – an ostensive attempt to deter fraud that prompts complaints of selective disenfranchisement. Using a difference-in-differences design on a 1.3-billion-observations panel, we find the laws have no negative effect on registration or turnout, overall or for any group defined by race, gender, age, or party affiliation. These results hold through a large number of specifications and cannot be attributed to mobilization against the laws, measured by campaign contributions and self-reported political engagement. ID requirements have no effect on fraud either – actual or perceived. Overall, our results suggest that efforts to reform voter ID laws may not have much impact on elections.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25522

 
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