A very interesting study out of USC tests responsiveness of legislators to Latino versus Caucasian citizens with concerns about how to vote. State legislators received the following message:
Hello (Representative/Senator NAME),For half, the voter's name was "Jacob Smith," and for the other half it was "Santiago Rodriguez". In all of the states tested, the actual answer to this question was "yes" (a driver's license is not required to vote).
My name is (voter NAME) and I have heard a lot in the news lately about identification being required at the polls. I do not have a driver’s license. Can I still vote in November? Thank you for your help.
The study found that legislators were considerably more likely to respond to Jacob Smith than Santiago Rodriguez. And that gap exploded when one compared voter ID supporters to voter ID opponents. Opponents of voter ID responded the Caucasian-sounding constituent 50% of the time compared to 43% of the time for his Latino-sounding peer (a seven point gap). For proponents of Voter ID, by contrast, that split was 45/27.5 (a gap of 17.5 points). In other words, proponents of voter ID are far less likely to respond to Latino constituents who have simple questions about the voting process.
This gap still exists for opponents of voter ID, but it is almost purely a result of partisan differences. Republican proponents of voter ID evinced a nearly 40 point gap in response rates between White and Latino constituents, while Republican opponents of these laws showed only a 16 point gap. Democratic opponents of voter ID laws, by contrast, responded to White and Latino voters at equal rates (within the margin of error). There were too few Democratic supporters of voter ID laws to measure.
The draft paper is available for download here.