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A Principle or a Strategy? Voter Identification Laws and Partisan Competition in the American States

February 2015

William D. Hicks, Seth C. McKee, Mitchell D. Sellers, Daniel A. Smith


Authors analyze attempts by state legislatures to pass voter identification laws between 2001 2012 to determine why some states attempt to pass these laws, while others do not. They ultimately conclude that the increase in voter ID laws is heavily dependent on the number of republican lawmakers in the legislature and the competitiveness of the election.

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Policy Implications

These results suggest that republican lawmakers believe that suppressing voter turnout may prove very helpful in winning elections. However, the results further illustrate that legislators tend to act on this much stronger when faced with a competitive election.

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