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Can Voter ID Laws Be Administered in a Race-Neutral Manner? Evidence from the City of Boston

s it feasible in the current United States to administer voter identification laws in a race-neutral manner? In this paper, we studied a jurisdiction and an election in which such laws would be unlikely to pose issues of racial difference. We also used state-of-the-art field methods and statistical techniques to account fully for sources of uncertainty previous studies had suppressed, including survey non-response. Our results are discouraging. We find strong evidence that Hispanic voters, and reasonably strong evidence that black voters, were asked for identification at higher rates than white voters. The magnitudes of the differences are troubling. We suggest that it may not be feasible to administer voter ID laws in a race-neutral manner in the current United States. We explore the theoretical and legal consequences of such a conclusion.

Authors: Rachael V. Cobb, D. James Greiner, and Kevin M. Quinn