Relating Voter ID Laws to Voter Turnout: Going Beyond the United State

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Understanding the determinants of electoral turnout has long been the focus of political science, with important meta-analyses from Geys (2006) and Smets and Van Ham (2013). These and other studies have been used to understand the cost of voting. However, one potential cost of voting that is not well understood is voter identification (ID) laws. Currently, findings on voter ID laws are mixed and only exist within the United States (Highton 2017). Yet it is important to understand voter ID in a comparative context because the costs of voting may be different outside of the US. This paper aims to understand where different voter ID laws are most likely to occur and how voter ID laws relate to voter turnout comparatively. The Comparative Voter ID Law index (CVIL) (Barton 2022), contains voter ID law information on many of the countries of the world. Firstly, using a series of logistic regressions models this paper shows stricter laws tend to occur in countries with national ID cards and younger electoral laws. Relating voter ID laws to election turnout data and using a OLS regression models; this analysis shows that the strictest form of voter ID laws are, in some cases, related to a lower level of election turnout at the national level. These findings imply that voter ID laws are related to other institutional arrangements and by requesting voters to show some identification at polling stations an extra preparation cost to voting is put in place which can have a meaningful impact on turnout.