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It seems like laws on voting do not have a large effect how much actual voter turnout there is. Look at these images:

Cost of Voting index ratings 2020

Turnout rates in 2022:

While there is some overlap between these graphs, a good deal appears to be demographic and regional. For example New Hampshire has a far lower accessibility than its neighbors but it doesn't have lower turnout. Georgia has a somewhat lower rating than its neighbors but a higher turnout (probably due to being a "battleground state").

Have there been any studies on this? I could be wrong. Maybe it does affect turnout but it is less obvious. I am asking for an objective answer. To me this suggests whether or not somebody votes is largely not impacted by voting laws.

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    I think I see a bit of correlation between the two maps. What is the correlation coefficient? Commented Jun 22 at 14:04
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    Voter turnout is affected by a lot of factors, not just how easy it is to vote. The most important factor in the US elections in particular is probably whether a state is a "battleground state" or one where it's already obvious who is going to win. If one wanted to make an argument about voting laws, then a more interesting thing to look at would probably be to look at how the turnout in a specific state changes shortly after voting is made easier or harder.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jun 22 at 14:16
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    @Philipp Or easier - e.g., turnout before and after mail-in voting was liberalized during COVID. Also, politically, nobody cares all that much about measured that across the board impact voter turnout by the same amount. What we care about politically are measures the differentially discourage supporters of one party from voting, but not members of another party. An aggregated state level measure of voting difficulty doesn't really capture that well.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jun 22 at 20:16

1 Answer 1

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Question:

Why do US state voting measures not seem to have large affects on turnout?

Short Answer:

The laws which outright tried to suppress minority voting which would have effected the 2020 - 2022 elections were largely overturned by courts. The court rulings in 2023-2024 have permitted some gerrymandering laws and voter suppression laws for the 2024 general election. The gerrymandering laws don't suppress vote they suppress minority representation by diluting minority votes with other safe districts.

Answer:

Which specific voting measures are you talking about which would have affected turnout in 2020 - 2024?

  • Wisconsin Voter Id law (2014): Struck down by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin

  • Florida's Voter Purge (2014): Struck down by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ruled that Florida's 2012 voter purge violated the National Voter Registration Act. The state's attempt to remove ineligible voters from the rolls was deemed improper, leading to a postponement of further purging efforts until the state could establish a new federal database for ineligible voters.

  • North Carolina's Voter ID Law (2016): The strict voter ID law, ruling it was enacted with discriminatory intent against African American voters? Struck down North Carolina's The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the court found that the law targeted African Americans "with almost surgical precision" and disproportionately affected minority voters​

  • Texas's Voter ID Law (2017): Texas's voter ID law? struck down by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law had a discriminatory effect on minority voters. Although the state later implemented a modified version of the law, the initial ruling highlighted the law's impact on disenfranchising voters of color​

  • Texas’ 2021 omnibus voter suppression law, Senate Bill 1, for violating the Materiality Provision of the Civil Rights Act. The Materiality Provision protects against disenfranchisement on the basis of trivial errors that are unrelated to a voter’s eligibility. Struck down by THE United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division

  • North Carolinia - Holmes v. Moore (2023), Voter suppression bill Struck down in 2018 for being enacted with racially discriminatory intent. Reviewed and reversed in 2023 by the new North Carolinian court majority.

  • North Carolina - Harper v. Hall (2023), Struck down in 2018, But in 2023, The Supreme Court held that partisan gerrymandering claims present a political question that is nonjusticiable under the North Carolina Constitution, thus overruling the Court's previous decision.

  • Alabama - Allen v. Milligan (2023): This Supreme Court ruling upheld Section 2 of the VRA, which protects against racial gerrymandering. The decision blocked Alabama's attempt to implement congressional maps that diluted the voting power of Black residents, reinforcing protections against discriminatory redistricting practices​

  • Georgia - 2023 Federal Judge Strikes Down Provisions of Georgia Voter Suppression Law S.B. 202

  • 2024, South Carolina; The Supreme Court rules in favor of South Carolina Republicans in Gerrymandering case

The Brennon Center: Voting Laws Roundup: 2023 in Review

  • Between January 1 and December 31, 2023, at least 14 states enacted 17 restrictive voting laws, all of which will be in effect for the 2024 general election.

  • At least 6 states enacted 7 election interference laws, with at least 6 laws in effect for the 2024 elections.

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  • So the answer is "they don't impact turnout, because they're not actually in force"? That makes this answer a bit vacuous ("it has no impact because it doesn't exist")
    – gerrit
    Commented Jun 28 at 9:48
  • @gerrit, It makes the question regarding 2020 and 2022 "a bit vacuous", per 2024 it's still up in the air. Especially because many of the efforts to suppress minority rights outlawed since reconstruction and now semi-legal, have to do with gerrymandering which don't suppress minority votes just the value of that vote as a community. When you consider the entire U.S. Federal Justice Dept was created to protect the promise to minorities entailed in the 13, 14th and 15th amendment and now we have a new Supreme Court and a entirely new collection of voter suppression laws targeting minorities..
    – JMS
    Commented Jun 29 at 22:01

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