PS: Political Science & Politics


The Disproportionate Impact of Voter-ID Requirements on the Electorate—New Evidence from Indiana

Matt A. Barretoa1, Stephen A. Nuñoa2 and Gabriel R. Sancheza3

a1 University of Washington

a2 Northern Arizona University

a3 University of New Mexico

On January 8, 2008, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, a case related to the discriminatory effects of voter-identification laws in the state of Indiana. Indiana has one of the most stringent voting requirements in the nation, as voters are required to present an up-to-date photo identification issued by the federal or state government in order to cast a ballot. Plaintiffs argued that the Indiana requirements prevent significant and unequal obstacles to the right to vote. The state argued that Indiana had the right to enforce strict requirements to prevent fraud and uphold confidence in the electoral process. Similar laws have also been proposed in many other states, typically related to charges of vote fraud, and often times tied into the divisive debate regarding undocumented immigrants or African American felons. Therefore the recent decision of the Court has tremendous implications to the future of photo-identification laws across the United States.


The authors would like to thank The Brennan Center for Justice, UC MEXUS, and the University of Washington College of Liberal Arts & Sciences for their generous support of this project. We received helpful feedback on an earlier version of this paper from Richard Sobel, Jonathan Nagler, and Caroline Tolbert during the 2008 APSA annual meeting. Loren Collingwood provided tremendous research assistance and helped to implement the Indiana survey.