WASHINGTON -- As many as 700,000 minority voters under age 30 may be unable to cast a ballot in November because of photo ID laws in certain states, according to a new study. The lower turnout could affect several House races as well as the tight presidential contest.
Using calculations based on turnout for the past two presidential elections, researchers at the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis concluded that overall turnout this year by young people of color ages 18-29 could fall by somewhere between 538,000 to 696,000 in states with photo ID laws.
"Our estimates are conservative. We are looking at demobilization from 9 to 25 percent," said Cathy Cohen, a University of Chicago expert on young and minority voters, who worked on the study with Jon Rogowski of Washington University. "If young people really have valid IDs at a rate of only 25 or even 50 percent, the number of young people of color disenfranchised will be even greater than what we estimate."
The study says that 17 states have either put a strict photo ID requirement in place, request photo ID but have provisional alternatives in place for those without it, or have passed a photo ID law that has yet to take effect. Those states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
The study cites three House races among the several it says could be affected by the "disproportionate demobilization" of young minorities: Georgia's 12th District, Pennsylvania's 6th District and Tennessee's 9th District. The Senate race in Wisconsin also could feel the impact of fewer young minority voters, the study says.
An analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's law school found that 11 percent of Americans lack a government-issued photo ID such as a passport, driver's license, state ID card or military ID. Nine percent of whites don't have such ID, compared with 25 percent of blacks and 16 percent of Hispanics, the Brennan study said.
"This is not about having ID. This is about having a specific type of ID. You can't show up with your Sam's Club card and vote," said National Urban League president Marc Morial.