Democrats Tiptoe Around How Loudly to Sound Alarm on Voting Risk

August 21, 2020 – Speakers at the Democratic National Convention this week had to walk a careful line between warning Joe Biden’s supporters of obstacles to voting and being so negative that they discourage participation.

By Ryan Teague Beckwith
Published in Bloomberg News: Election 2020

Kathleen Unger, president of VoteRiders, a nonpartisan group that helps people meet voter ID requirements, said she’s concerned that all of the back-and-forth over voting is going to leave Americans uncertain about how they can cast a ballot. In her work, she said she’s often seen potential voters simply give up in light of new ID requirements, even when they already have the paperwork they would need.

She fears a similar effect will dampen turnout among both Democrats and Republicans this fall.

“Whether that’s anybody’s intention or not, that is absolutely an unequivocal result,” she said.

Research backs up that argument. A 2019 study of a voter ID law in North Carolina found that it decreased turnout by about 1% — even in an election held after the law was suspended — because voters weren’t aware it was no longer in effect, “creating confusion that deters turnout,” the authors wrote.