by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
WRAL’s report on this week’s hearing in a state court case linked to North Carolina voting law included the following assertion:
Democrats generally favor striking down voter ID laws, while Republicans by and large back GOP legislators who drafted the law.
Really? A quick Google search of “voter ID polling” leads to some interesting results that counter that unattributed assertion.
The Hill reported in 2014:
Seven in 10 registered voters are in favor of identification laws in order to root out fraud at the ballot box, according to a Fox News poll released this week.
The survey found majority support in every major demographic, including black voters and Democrats.
The 70 percent who support voter ID laws remains largely unchanged in the past few years. Another 27 percent believe the laws are unnecessary.
The issue has resurfaced recently as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Republicans should not go too crazy over the law because they are offending people, African-Americans in particular.
He later clarified he believes the laws should not be a defining issue for Republicans, and they should be left up to the states to decide. A total of 31 states have active voter identification laws, while a handful of others have recently been struck down in state courts.
The survey found majorities of every demographic support the law. Ninety-one percent of Republicans offer support, and 66 percent of independents feel the same.
Fifty-five percent of Democrats support the laws, while 43 percent oppose them.
Opposition to the laws is highest among black respondents, but even there a bare majority, 51 percent, support them. Forty-six percent of African Americans oppose the laws.
How about Politifact last year?
A Rasmussen Reports poll published June 3, 2015, showed 76 percent of respondents believe voters should be required to show a form of photo identification before being allowed to vote. Even 58 percent of respondents who identified as Democrats supported voter ID laws. The poll included 952 likely voters and had a margin of error of 3 percent.
A 2012 Washington Post poll found 74 percent of respondents said they believed voters should have to show government-issued ID before casting a ballot.
Again, the support crossed demographic groups: 78 percent of white respondents supported voter ID laws; as did 67 percent of non-whites, 65 percent of blacks and 64 percent of Hispanics. The poll included 2,047 adults. The margin of error was 2.5 percent.
We looked at several other national polls, and all had similar numbers: between 70 percent and 80 percent of voters support requiring a photo ID to vote.
Meanwhile, a 2014 Marquette University Law School poll of 1,409 registered Wisconsin voters found 60 percent of respondents supported requiring a photo ID to vote. The margin of error was 2.7 percent.
“It gets overwhelming public support,” said Kenneth Mayer, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Depending on which poll, you might get 60 to 80 percent support.
“The reason you get that level of support … most of the people who vote have an accessible voter ID.”
It is entirely reasonable to assume that the constant drumbeat of partisan Democratic attacks on voter ID in the past couple of years might have lowered support for the idea. But until polling data indicate it, the notion that Democrats “generally favor” striking down voter ID laws seems off-base.