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Researchers Find African-Americans Are Less Likely Than Other Texans To Have Photo ID

A pair of political scientists were asked by the Justice Department to determine how many Texans lack the documents required to vote


Conflict over Texas' voter ID law was in the courts for most of last year, and 2018 will probably be no different. The state's restrictive voter ID law, passed in 2011, has been found by courts to have been crafted with discriminatory intent. Now it's up to a three-judge panel to decide, among other things, whether Texas' new law, designed to fix problems with the old law, goes far enough.

But there is something of a mystery at the heart of the voter ID cases: how many Texans actually lack the documents required to cast a ballot in the state, and who are they? Now, two Justice Department expert witnesses have come up with an algorithm that may provide answers.

Eitan Hersh is a political science professor at Tufts University, and one of the algorithm's developers. He says the DOJ asked to determine how many Texans don't have identification that would allow them to vote under the law, as well as the racial composition of that group.

Hersh and his colleagues matched the list of registered Texas voters to every other kind of list that included ID information.

"For every registered voter we matched them to a database possessing drivers' license holders and concealed-carry handgun license holders, passport holders, etc." Hersh says.

Hersh says the study assumed that a person without a match did not have the ID needed to vote. The study found that five percent of Texans didn't have a form of ID that would allow them to vote under the current law.

"Of those who don't have IDs, minority voters, particularly African-Americans, were less likely to possess a photo ID," Hersh says.

He says that Latinos were less likely to have ID than whites, but more likely than African-Americans to have one.

Written by Shelly Brisbin.


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