Those who say that voter ID laws are motivated by racism now have some science to back them up.
A new study found that white participants were more likely to support voter ID laws after being shown a photo of minorities voting. The photos only affected the responses of white participants; Hispanic and black voters "were about equally likely to support or oppose the laws regardless of who was featured in the picture," Vox reported.
The study, conducted by the University of Delaware Center for Political Communication, surveyed a "nationally representative sample of 1,436 adult U.S. respondents." The first group was asked about their support for voter ID laws alongside a photo of an African-American using a voting machine. The other two groups "either saw no image at all, or an image showing a white person using a voting machine," according to the study's authors.
White participants favored the voter ID laws by a statistically significant margin, six percentage points, when shown an image of a black voter versus when shown a white voter or no image at all.
Proponents of voter ID laws, which require voters to show government-issued identification in order to vote, say they are intended to prevent voter fraud. Opponents argue that the laws discriminate against citizens without IDs, a group largely composed of minorities and the elderly.
In a scathing opinion last week, conservative luminary and 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner criticized Wisconsin's restrictive law, saying it "appeared to be aimed at limiting voting by minorities, particularly blacks," and that the law would "impede voting by people easily discouraged from voting, most of whom probably lean Democratic."
That didn't stop another federal appeals court from ruling that Texas can enforce its voter identification requirements in the upcoming election. The ruling is "temporarily blocking last week's lower-court ruling that the law was an unconstitutional effort to suppress the vote among blacks and Latinos," the Daily Beast reported. It affects about 600,000 Texans at the polls this November.
Although it's too late to block Texas from imposing its voter ID law this fall, hopefully studies like this will encourage better decisions in the future.