It’s been discussed repeatedly that states with voter identification laws — that is, states requiring potential voters to provide specific forms of ID, such as a driver license, at the poll — have decreased voter turnouts. Or specifically, reduced turnouts for those who are more likely to lack those forms of ID: low-income, disabled, minority, elderly, young, or female voters, arguably those who are disenfranchised by society the most. One possible solution to combat the voter ID hurdle has been found, however:
…a direct mail GOTV experiment, conducted during the run-up to the 2012 general election in counties … in heavily African American precincts…indicate that informing low-propensity voters of a new identification requirement raises turnout by approximately one percentage point.
The study also showed that messages providing details about ID requirements as well as those offering to help recipients obtain the correct forms of ID appear more effective than messages that only pointed out the requirement. Furthermore, the experiment also appeared to increase turnout among others in the recipients’ households.
This isn’t surprising – we can all agree, at least in theory, that a more informed public is more likely to participate in decision making. We can (and should) put that theory into action – inform the public of not only what’s likely to be on the ballot, but also the tools needed to make their voice heard.