In a brand-new exposé on Mother Jones, investigative journalist Ari Berman delves into an aspect of the 2016 election that has been largely ignored in the shadow of controversies over internal DNC politics, shifting blame, and what is now known to be concrete Russian interference: Voter suppression.
On the heels of a report Berman summarized back in September, his article for the November-December issue of the liberal stalwart magazine continues where he left off. Anecdotal evidence of individual voters who were prevented from voting in Wisconsin during the presidential election all adds up to a picture that explains the numbers in the University of Wisconsin-Madison study that Berman cites in his summary.
The study, completed by UW-Madison’s professor of Political Science, Kenneth Mayer, shows a survey in two large counties in Wisconsin that asked whether respondents were either prevented or deterred from voting in 2016 by the new Voter ID law in effect for the first time in that election. The results of the survey were stunning: More than 11 percent of respondents said they were deterred, and that 6 percent — more than half of the nonvoters — were prevented entirely. If those sound like small numbers, bear with me.
In the course of research, voters were asked why they didn’t vote, how engaged they were in the election, what types of ID they possessed, how confident they were in the final vote count, and their general demographics. The survey never required any respondent to answer who they may have voted for.
Possibly the most distressing part of the findings was how disproportionately the Voter ID law affected low-income and minority voters: More than 21 percent of households under $25,000 of income per year were deterred; that number dropped to just over 7 percent for those above that line. The demarcation between white and black voters was even more stark, with just of 8 percent of white voters reporting trouble and 27.5 percent of African-Americans reporting the same.
What does all that add up to?
As Berman notes in the new piece for MJ, Wisconsin showed the second-highest voter turnout in the United States in both 2008 and 2012, but just four years later, participation was the lowest it had been in 16 years.
So let’s get back to those numbers.
In just the two counties that were surveyed, Dane and Milwaukee, the percentage of registered voters who were adversely affected by the new Voter ID law represents a low estimate of nearly 17,000 and an upper estimate of 23,252 voters. In fact, the study points out, the 11.2 percent nonvoter estimate is actually low in itself, as it doesn’t take into account voters who were deterred from even registering by the new law.
If every single one of those in the study who answered that they were deterred or prevented from voting had actually cast a vote that counted, voter turnout would have increased by 2.24 percent. And that seems like an incredibly small number, until you extrapolate that across the state. The Wisconsin Election Commission estimated that 3.1 million voters turned out for the 2016 presidential election. That means 69,440 voters — under a conservative estimate — were disenfranchised entirely by the new Voter ID law.
Donald Trump’s margin of victory in the state? Less than a third of that.
Given that the vast majority of disenfranchised voters, although they were not asked their political affiliations, were demographically more likely to vote for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump, it hardly requires extrapolation to conclude that, at least in the state of Wisconsin, Trump was right.
The vote was rigged.
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