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The Empirical Effects of Voter-ID Laws: Present or Absent?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 January 2009

Jason D. Mycoff
University of Delaware
Michael W. Wagner
University of Nebraska
David C. Wilson
University of Delaware


The effect of voter-identification (voter-ID) laws on turnout is a hot-button issue in contemporary American politics. In April of 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed Indiana's voter-ID law, the nation's most rigorous, which requires voters to arrive at the polls with a state-issued photo ID containing an expiration date (Crawford v. Marion County 2008). In a famous incident highlighting how Hoosiers were dealing with their state's voter-ID law, representative Julia Carson (D-IN) was initially blocked from voting during Indiana's 2006 primary election for failing to comply with Indiana's voter-identification standard. Carson identified herself with her congressional ID card; since that card did not include an expiration date and therefore did not meet Indiana's voter-identification law, she was turned away at the polls before later being allowed to vote (Goldstein 2006). The rising wave of public, political, and legal debate crested two years later in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling and during the Indiana primaries, with reports of a dozen nuns being denied ballots at the polls due to their lack of appropriate identification (Urbina 2008).

Copyright © American Political Science Association 2009

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