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Vote Suppression Works

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It ended up not being decisive because of Michigan and Pennsylvania, but vote suppression in Wisconsin could have altered the outcome of the presidential election, and could definitely affect election outcomes going forward:

comprehensive study released today suggests how many missing votes can be attributed to the new law. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison surveyed registered voters who didn’t cast a 2016 ballot in the state’s two biggest counties—Milwaukee and Dane, which is home to Madison. More than 1 out of 10 nonvoters (11.2 percent) said they lacked acceptable voter ID and cited the law as a reason why they didn’t vote; 6.4 percent of respondents said the voter ID law was the “main reason” they didn’t vote.

The study’s lead author, University of Wisconsin political scientist Kenneth Mayer, says between roughly 9,000 and 23,000 registered voters in the reliably Democratic counties were deterred from voting by the ID law. Extrapolating statewide, he says the data suggests as many as 45,000 voters sat out the election, though he cautioned that it was difficult to produce an estimate from just two counties.*

“We have hard evidence there were tens of thousands of people who were unable to vote because of the voter ID law,” Mayer told me.

The study, which was funded by Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell, provides some of the firmest evidence yet that new restrictions on voting lead to voter disenfranchisement. It’s a strong rebuke to supporters of voter ID laws like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has claimed that the notion the voter ID law reduced participation is a “load of crap.” (Wisconsin saw its lowest turnout since 2000, and there were 41,000 fewer voters in Milwaukee compared with 2012.)

After the study’s release, McDonell and Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson joined together in calling for an immediate suspension of the law. “It is completely unacceptable that thousands of voters were deterred from exercising their sacred right to vote due to this law. Citizens’ basic belief in their democracy is seriously eroded when those in power target some for exclusion from self-government,” said McDonell.

Admittedly, this doesn’t seem as important as telling unfalsifiable just-so stories about the campaign tactics of someone who will never run for public office again.

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