Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Paul Dawson
Michael Parkin


Strict photo ID, Voter ID, Voter identification, Voting, Photo identification, Race, Voting Rights Act, VRA


Everett Dirksen, the senator who introduced the Voting Rights Act, once said: "the right of a free citizen to vote is somehow a battle that is never quite fully won in any time or generation." So far, he seems to have been right. In recent years, a push across many states to enact stricter voter identification laws has received widespread attention. This issue and its ramifications are often discussed in the media, but without much empirical evidence. In 2007, Alvarez, Bailey and Katz assembled a working paper titled "The Effect of Voter Identification Laws on Turnout," which was recently referenced in the federal case between Texas and the Justice Department over whether the state's new voter ID law was in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. This paper, the only piece of social science evidence the Judges gave significant consideration to in the Texas case, is the basis for mine. I use a similar methodology, but update my data to include survey results from the 2008 and 2010 elections, and focus only on strict photo ID laws rather than every category of voter identification. The results are astounding: a state enacting a strict photo ID voting requirement is associated with a white citizen being 7% less likely to vote, and a Hispanic citizen being 27% less likely to vote. I believe this disparate effect across both ethnicity and language group shows that strict photo ID laws are in effect in violation of the Voting Rights Act.