Op-Ed: Voter ID Increases Voter Turnout, Strengthens Election Security, & Improves Confidence in Election Results

Like many of my colleagues in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, I have been hearing from residents all throughout our Commonwealth asking lawmakers to prioritize commonsense election integrity reforms in order to increase turnout, strengthen election security, and improve confidence in our elections. 

Heeding these calls from the public, the legislature took steps to advance election security and voter access proposals by passing House Bill 1300 late last month. Despite widespread support, Governor Wolf did what he too often has done on this issue – ignored the will of the people and vetoed the bill.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time Governor Wolf has opposed election reform and interfered with established election processes. From politicizing the Department of State to vetoing key measures like pre canvassing, voter ID, and enhanced signature review, Governor Wolf has consistently worked against legitimate reform that is supported by a majority of voters. 

Once again, lawmakers intend to rectify this by taking the issue directly to the voters in the form of a constitutional amendment allowing for voter ID in Pennsylvania. Constitutional amendments must be approved by both chambers of the General Assembly in two consecutive legislative sessions and then finally approved by Pennsylvania voters in the form of a ballot referendum.

This proposal is not radical or unique by any means; in fact, 35 other states require some form of voter ID. Additionally, there is broad public support for voter ID. A recent poll by Franklin & Marshall College found 74% of Pennsylvanians who responded favored requirements that all voters show a photo ID, compared with 25% opposed. Nationally, that number climbs to 80% in support of some sort of identification to vote and 18% opposed, according to a Monmouth University poll.

Opponents of voter ID proposals have made false claims that the legislation would reduce voter turnout; however, this is strictly not true. In some cases, the opposite has been true. For instance, when photo ID was added as a requirement in Georgia, overall turnout increased – not decreased. Georgia turnout in 2020 was 67.7% – which was above the national average.

In fact, most of the available research indicates that voter ID does not have a statistically significant impact on voter behavior:

  • A 2015 report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office identified 10 studies on the effect of voter ID laws on turnout. Five showed no statistically significant impact, and one actually showed an increase in turnout after the implementation of voter ID.
  • One of the most comprehensive of these studies looked at voting behavior across four elections and found that voter ID laws did not affect voting at either the individual or aggregate levels.
  • A 2019 nationwide report found that voter ID laws had no negative impact on voter registration or turnout – overall, or for any group defined by race, gender, age or party affiliation.
  • Similarly, a 2013 study on the impact of voter ID – which was completed at the University of California San Diego – found no significant effects by race or ethnicity.

Pennsylvanians should understand that when Democrats cry voter suppression, it is not factual; it is purely political. The evidence simply does not back up their claims.

The very limited amount of research that reaches a different conclusion is typically based on research from the states with the most stringent ID requirements. Those circumstances are not being proposed here. In short, voter ID increases voter confidence, strengthens election security, and eliminates errors all without impacting a citizen’s Constitutional right to vote.

Election integrity is a top priority of mine. I believe that ensuring that every legal voter has the opportunity to cast their ballot without the fear that their vote will be disregarded, mishandled, or lost is absolutely critical. I have been and continue to be committed to making it easier to vote and harder to cheat. Voter ID is the perfect place to start.