Recently, there’s been an uproar about Georgia’s approach to voter registration. The state’s “exact match” law, passed last year, requires that citizens’ names on their government-issued IDs must precisely match their names as listed on the voter rolls. If the two don’t match, additional verification by a local registrar will be necessary. The Georgia NAACP and other civil rights groups have filed a lawsuit arguing that the measure, effective since July 2017, is aimed at disenfranchising racial minorities in the upcoming midterm elections.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican who is running for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, has put on hold more than 53,000 voters so far, given mismatches in the names in their voting records and other sources of identification such as driver’s licenses and Social Security cards. If the measure takes effect, voters whose information does not exactly match across sources will need to bring a valid photo ID to the polls on Election Day to vote. That could suppress voter turnout, either because some voters lack IDs or because voters are confused about whether they are eligible. Proponents of the rule assert that it is only meant to prevent illegal voting.
But is missing a hyphen, an initial instead of a complete middle name, or just having a discrepancy in one letter in a voter’s name good evidence that the voter is not who they say they are? How would we know?
Researchers often need to match records — and they have to get it right
But although incorrect matches can cause problems, so can dropping records that should be matched but have small discrepancies. Eliminating those records can also corrupt an analysis.
Our analysis found that the “exact match’’ approach would link only 66 percent of voters who were actually the same, correctly identifying about 91 million voters. In other words, “exact matching” would exclude nearly 40 million records that actually did refer to the same voter — disenfranchising quite a few Americans.
As an illustration, using our algorithm, 91 percent of those on Georgia’s voter rolls would be cleared to vote, or 3,941,342 voting-eligible citizens — while “exact matching” clears only 70 percent, or 3,031,802 eligible citizens.
The results appear in the chart below. As you can see, the “exact matching” method misses a substantial share of valid matches. While our algorithm validated 60 percent of the voter records, “exact matching” validated less than 30 percent, on average.
And in keeping with the concerns of opponents of the Georgia measure, nonwhite voters are especially likely to be harmed. The match rates using exact matching are nine and six percentage points lower for black and Hispanic voters, respectively, than for white voters.
Georgia’s “exact match” law is the latest in a string of voter identification measures that critics allege are thinly veiled voter suppression tactics. Whether intended that way or not, Georgia’s “exact match” rule will disproportionately affect minority voters.
The full story can be read at Georgia’s ‘exact match’ law could potentially harm many eligible voters
My response is why does the ‘exact match rule’ disproportionately affects non-white voters? Why not educate non-white voters and remind them to bring valid government-issued photo IDs? If on doing so data shows racial disparity then one can prove discrimination and address the issue in a meaningful and sustainable manner.
I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a government-issued photo ID unless there are racial barriers to obtaining such IDs. Get a valid driver’s license or passport. I don’t know how anyone can live in this country without a government-issued ID. If you are here legally and didn’t take the time to get one perhaps, you shouldn’t vote. If you are here illegally, you should not and do not have the right to vote. The emphasis should be whether you have the legal right to vote rather than whether your government-issued ID exactly matches the voter registration roll.
When traveling if the name on the airline reservation does not precisely match your passport or driver’s license, there is room for error or flexibility that allows you to board the plane to your destination. They allow for errors in one or two letters.
On the other hand, I understand the history of the South and how gerrymandering continues to be used by the GOP to maintain control of political seats and disenfranchise black voters. Throughout US history, whites have always engaged in foul play around election time. They cheat and fix it to their benefit. In 2016, Trump had the Russians intervene to rig the election that he won. Where are the laws that disqualify the results of such an election? If the Russians determined the results of the 2016 presidential election, why are states more focused on making sure non-whites don’t exercise their right to vote rather than eliminating foreign interference? You see whites, both Republicans and Democrats, like the status quo. Trust me if they didn’t benefit it would not be the status quo.
Election 2018 is another example in a long list of examples where voter suppression disproportionately affects black voters. We should anticipate this and find creative ways to eliminate voter suppression that deny eligible black voters their right to vote or eliminate systems designed to make sure non-white votes don’t count. Beat them at their own game instead of crying foul play all the time.
When I see how violent elections can be in other countries, I have to be thankful that is not the case here, at least not yet.