Minority turnout increased dramatically after Georgia voter-ID law

posted at 2:41 pm on September 3, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Politico’s Mike Allen called this “the most surprising story of the day” [see update!], which really only applies to the hysterics and the demagogues who oppose measures to combat ballot fraud.  After Georgia passed a voter-ID requirement in time for the 2008 election cycle, critics claimed that it would suppress black and Hispanic votes and lead to a new era of Jim Crow.  Instead, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution discovered, it’s led to a new era of eating crow (via The Corner):

When Georgia became one of the first states in the nation to demand a photo ID at the ballot box, both sides served up dire predictions. Opponents labeled it a Jim Crow-era tactic that would suppress the minority vote. Supporters insisted it was needed to combat fraud that imperiled the integrity of the elections process.

But both claims were overblown, according to a review of by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of statewide voting patterns in the five years since the law took effect.

Turnout among black and Hispanic voters increased from 2006 to 2010, dramatically outpacing population growth for those groups over the same period.

The AJC frames this in a strange manner, comparing a factual with a hypothetical counterfactual:

On the other hand, Georgia’s top elections official could not point to a single case of ballot fraud the voter ID law had prevented.

Er, perhaps that’s because it actually prevented the ballot fraud from taking place.  Either the top elections official doesn’t understand the word “prevented” or the reporter doesn’t.  If the argument is that election judges didn’t have to stop anyone who used fraudulent ID to attempt to cast a vote, that would be an interesting claim to investigate — but it doesn’t speak at all to deterrence, which is after all what “prevented” means in this context.  The effect of checking IDs could very well have deterred those who would otherwise have engaged in nearly risk-free fraud before voter-ID from attempting vote fraud after it.  In other words, anything “prevented” would therefore be unknown to everyone.

And just a couple of paragraphs later, we actually get evidence that it might well have prevented more than a thousand cases of fraudulent voting:

Still, the law has had real and measurable effect for some voters: Since November 2008, the ballots of 1,586 Georgians didn’t count because of the law. (They arrived at the polls without a photo ID, cast provisional ballots, and did not return later with the required ID.) Overall, 13.6 million votes were cast in the state during the same period.

I’m mystified how the reporter and editors allowed those two paragraphs to exist within the same article.

Back to the data:

Elections data reviewed by the AJC show that participation among black voters rose by 44 percent from 2006 — before the law was implemented — to 2010. For Hispanics, the increase for the same period was 67 percent. Turnout among whites rose 12 percent.

It was expected that African American turnout would spike in 2008, when Barack Obama became the first person of color to win the presidency. And it did rise to historic highs in Georgia.

Black participation fell in 2010, as it did for all demographic groups. Still, a far greater share of black voters turned out in 2010 than in 2006, showing that Obama was not the only factor driving turnout.

“If you look at the numbers, they clearly show that critics of this law were wrong,” Hans von Spakovsky, a former legal counsel to the Justice Department’s civil rights division who now works for the conservative Heritage Foundation. “Their argument has always been it would depress turnout, but it didn’t happen — quite the opposite.”

Actually, the factors driving turnout aren’t relevant anyway.  What this showed was that legitimate voters who want to participate found voter-ID to be no barrier, even those who don’t usually show up to the polls with or without voter-ID requirements.  That data utterly validates what advocates of voter-ID have always assumed — that legitimate voters of all ethnicities either already have state-issued photo IDs or would have no trouble figuring out how to acquire it, especially since states offer free ID to low-income citizens.  What assumptions did opponents make about minority voters?

Update: I guess we’re all just discovering this article today … but the article actually first appeared a year ago today.  Politico’s hit just snowballed, and even though I usually check dates, I missed this one.  It’s still well worth the effort. In 2012, two months after the article appeared, 77% of all registered black women and 66% of registered black men turned out to vote in the presidential election. In 2010, it was 55% and 44%, respectively, but in 2008 it was 80% and 70%.  The differences between the 2008 and 2012 numbers are within the MoE of exit polling.


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There needs to be an investigation of the rouge reporters at the Atlanta Urinal and Constipation who stepped all over Teh Narrative.

Another Drew on September 3, 2013 at 2:48 PM

What assumptions did opponents make about minority voters?

That they have publik skool educations from union teachers, and are therefore too damn ignorant to know how to obtain a free ID?

AZCoyote on September 3, 2013 at 2:48 PM

But…the narrative????

Doesn’t anybody care about the narrative???

As for the retort about there not being one case of election fraud after voter ID became law…I’d say this is perhaps one of the few times ever a law actually turned out to accomplish exactly what was intended.

coldwarrior on September 3, 2013 at 2:49 PM

Never let the facts get in the way of a good story to rally the troops.

Tater Salad on September 3, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Still, a far greater share of black voters turned out in 2010 than in 2006, showing that Obama was not the only factor driving turnout.

The Bullshit meter just pegged out!

GarandFan on September 3, 2013 at 2:56 PM

The AJC is another embarrassment to Georgia, second of course to Jiminy Carter. I’d call it fishwrap but since they started using loose ink that comes off on everything it touches, it’s not even useful for that.

slickwillie2001 on September 3, 2013 at 2:58 PM

Still, a far greater share of black voters turned out in 2010 than in 2006, showing that Obama was not the only factor driving turnout.

The Bullshit meter just pegged out!

GarandFan on September 3, 2013 at 2:56 PM

To shut down this nonsense permanently, on any government paperwork including censuses insist that you are ‘mixed race’.

slickwillie2001 on September 3, 2013 at 3:00 PM

What’s really surprising is how the AJC reported that a year ago, and Politico is just now getting around to reading about it.

hawksruleva on September 3, 2013 at 3:00 PM

It’s only surprising to condescending and paternalistic racists who think Democrat opposition is about anything other than the ability to commit voter fraud.

RadClown on September 3, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Go figure. Requiring identification hasn’t hurt sales of cold medicine, booze, nail polish remover or cigarettes, either. Whether it has enhanced sales is anyone’s guess. In this case we have not only a preservation of the turnout but an increase in the turnout. Nice when things work to the detriment of the leftists’ narrative.

totherightofthem on September 3, 2013 at 3:06 PM

I’m mystified how the reporter and editors allowed those two paragraphs to exist within the same article.

Really, you are mystified? I really don’t think this is Pulizer Prize stuff.

hip shot on September 3, 2013 at 3:08 PM

AP, look at this.

John McCain Blasts Fox News Over ‘Allahu Akbar’ Criticism (VIDEO)

Warning it’s from HuffPo. So, click at your own risk.

Funny how many lefties agree with McCain. No analysis, just pure emotion.

Oil Can on September 3, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Troll. Free. Thread.

M240H on September 3, 2013 at 3:12 PM

What’s really surprising is how the AJC reported that a year ago, and Politico is just now getting around to reading about it.

hawksruleva on September 3, 2013 at 3:00 PM

LOL! I updated the post and looked up the 2012 numbers. Still makes the point.

Ed Morrissey on September 3, 2013 at 3:14 PM

I just returned from spending some time in South Africa, among other countries.

I was bemused to see official signs posted all over exhorting the young to get their IDs so they could vote.

To vote in South Africa you “must have a green, bar-coded ID book.

Once Obama has wrapped up his meeting with Russian gays, maybe he or Holder should drop by South Africa to sort things out there and give President Zuma a hard time for his racist voter ID laws.

Drained Brain on September 3, 2013 at 3:22 PM

In other news, Bill Clinton is full of shit, surprising… no one.

Midas on September 3, 2013 at 3:25 PM

I’ve yet to have a single lib explain to me how requiring ID to buy cigarettes has reduced smoking, reduced the number of drivers on the road, or reduced the purchase of cold medicine. They know it hasn’t but doesn’t stop them from concluding that it will reduce voter turnout, mostly because I guess they know their GOTV effort is rampant with fraud. There is no other conclusion to draw.

goflyers on September 3, 2013 at 3:36 PM

I think there is an easy explanation for the increase in minority votes. The fraudulent votes tend to be created as white votes. Remove them, % minority votes increase.

MechanicalBill on September 3, 2013 at 3:39 PM

I’m surprised that commenters haven’t yet made the obvious connection… that by requiring an ID to vote, the perception is that your vote now truly matters… and so it makes more sense to spend time to vote!

dominigan on September 3, 2013 at 4:07 PM

I’m mystified how the reporter and editors allowed those two paragraphs to exist within the same article.

It’s the Atlanta Jungian Constipation, is how.

psrch on September 3, 2013 at 4:20 PM

Locals call it the Atlanta Urinal and Constipation.

slickwillie2001 on September 3, 2013 at 4:25 PM

The black voters would have walked over broken glass to vote for Obozo. Whenever Killery is the nominee on 2016 they will stay home. The Dems will then say see the black voters are being disenfranchised. Racists only vote for other racists. Haters gotta hate.

neyney on September 3, 2013 at 4:33 PM

The black voters would have walked over broken glass to vote for Obozo. Whenever Killery is the nominee on 2016 they will stay home. The Dems will then say see the black voters are being disenfranchised. Racists only vote for other racists. Haters gotta hate.

neyney on September 3, 2013 at 4:33 PM

Yep. After The Precious it’s hard to see them getting excited over voting for a fat old white lady.

slickwillie2001 on September 3, 2013 at 4:38 PM

I think the increase in voters has as much to with the days and days and days of early voting locations available to people in Georgia. A friend of mine who lives there voted in the Presidential election three weeks before the actual election night. Even then she said lines were out the door. There were numerous early voting stations open weeks in advance.

JasperBallbaggins on September 3, 2013 at 4:45 PM

I’m mystified how the reporter and editors allowed those two paragraphs to exist within the same article.

Two newspapers in One!

Since the Obama campaigns drove minority voter turnout far more than normally during this exact time frame, I don’t really think before and after numbers are going to create a very meaningful comparison. The real takeaway, of course, is that the voter ID laws didn’t suppress any votes at all — except possibly fraudulent ones.

Naturally, the media would try to spin it as, “you can’t prove it prevented any fraud, either.” It’s all they’ve got.

There Goes the Neighborhood on September 3, 2013 at 7:15 PM

I guess we’re all just discovering this article today … but the article actually first appeared a year ago today. Politico’s hit just snowballed, and even though I usually check dates, I missed this one. It’s still well worth the effort.

Never hurts to repeat good news; the woe-is-meme needs more push-back.

AesopFan on September 5, 2013 at 6:52 PM