Abstract

Voter ID laws require individuals to show government-endorsed identification when casting their ballots on Election Day. Whereas some see these laws as necessary to prevent voting fraud, others argue that fraud is extremely rare and that voter ID laws can suppress voting. The relative newness of the laws, along with variance in their substance, suggests that the public may possess low information about voter ID laws; thus, opinions on the issue may be influenced by political information, group predispositions, and the media. Using data from a national poll (n = 906), this study investigates what underlies opinion on voter ID laws. The results indicate that political predispositions, including ideology, party identification, and racial attitudes, influence support for such laws. The results also yield evidence of several types of information effects. A question-wording experiment shows that exposure to an anti–voter ID law argument framing voter ID laws as preventing eligible people from voting reduced support, whereas other framing treatments (pro and con) had no discernible impact on opinion. A “polarization effect” emerges, with issue familiarity magnifying the gap in opinion between liberals and conservatives. Fox News viewers are particularly likely to support voter ID laws, though no other forms of media use are significantly related to support. Finally, perceptions of voting fraud as “common” are associated with support for voter ID laws.

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