How Voter Identification Laws Distort American Democracy

Zoltan Hajnal, University of California, San Diego, Lindsay Nielson, Techwerks, Nazita Lajevardi, Michigan State University

Increasingly strict voter ID laws are spreading across U.S. states. An important new study by Zoltan Hajnal and co-authors Nazita Lajevardi and Lindsay Nielson documents that these rules discourage minority voting and skew election outcomes toward the right.

The study compares voter turnout in states with and without photo identification requirements. Its findings about the racial and political effects have been highlighted by The Washington Post and Think ProgressAs more U.S. states pass similar laws, Hajnal argues that voting restrictions may become one of the most important civil rights issues in our time.

For more research on voting rights in America, see SSN’s working group on protecting and expanding the right to vote and the various briefs assembled in the SSN Spotlight “Forward or Back on Voting Rights?


Zoltan Hajnal is a Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. His research looks at racial and ethnic politics, urban politics, immigration, and political behavior.

February 2016