New Barriers to Participation: Application of New Mexico's Voter Identification Law

Topics: 
Working Paper No.: 
59
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
Thad E. Hall
Kyle L. Saunders
Lisa A. Bryant

In democratic societies there is a tension between maximizing ballot access and minimizing voter fraud. Since the 2000 presidential election, this tension has been central to discussions about election reform, at the national and local level. We examine this tension by focusing on the implementation of voter identification laws in one state that has experienced significant issues in recent elections, and that is now implementing significant attempts at election reform: New Mexico. We hypothesized that Hispanic voters were more likely to show some form of identification than other types of voters. Using a voter data set from New Mexico’s First Congressional District in the 2006 election, we find that Hispanic, male and Election Day voters were more likely to show some form of identification than non-Hispanic, female and early voters. In addition, using an overlapping study of Bernalillo County 2006 poll workers, we find no evidence that certain groups of poll workers were more likely to ask for voter identification. Our findings suggest that broad voter identification laws, which may be applied unequally, may be perceived as discriminatory.

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