Politics is local: State legislator voting on restrictive voter identification legislation

Seth C. McKee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The marked increase in restrictive voter identification (ID) laws since the 2010 elections reveals the extreme partisan polarization in those state legislatures advancing this reform. Unlike previous studies that examine state-level factors expected to influence passage of restrictive voter ID bills, this study is the first to investigate the question using the state legislator as the unit of analysis. Multivariate analysis of the voting behavior of state legislators shows which kinds of district-level factors increase or decrease their likelihood of supporting stricter voter ID laws. Given the differentiable coalitions favoring Democratic and Republican candidates, certain partisan-aligned district demographics influence state lawmaker support for restrictive voter ID legislation. Race in particular is a major cleavage conditioning support for restrictive voter ID laws. Unlike the mixed findings generated by macro-level studies, this article provides convincing evidence that the size of the black district population negatively influences the likelihood that a Democratic legislator votes in favor of a restrictive voter ID bill, but positively affects the probability that a Republican lawmaker votes yes. The findings in this study illuminate the contextual factors that influence legislator voting on this salient election reform.

Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch and Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • Black voting age population
  • Partisan polarization
  • State legislator
  • Voter ID laws


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