Why the Sky Didn't Fall: Mobilizing Anger in Reaction to Voter ID Laws

Nicholas A. Valentino, Fabian G. Neuner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Since 2002, 26 U.S. states have passed laws that enhance restrictions on voters who intend to register and vote. Most have been sponsored by Republican legislators and passed by states with large Republican majorities. Proponents of such identification requirements argue that they are necessary to ensure the integrity of the electoral system by reducing voter fraud. Many Democrats have cried foul, arguing these laws are motivated by crass partisanship at best, and racial bias at worst, because they disproportionately disenfranchise minorities. Surprisingly, empirical evidence for significant demobilization, either in the aggregate or among Democrats specifically, has thus far failed to materialize. We suspect strong emotional reactions to the public debate about these laws may mobilize Democrats, counterbalancing the disenfranchising effect. We find support for this conjecture in a nationally representative survey and an experiment where news frames about voter identification (ID) laws are carefully manipulated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-350
Number of pages20
JournalPolitical Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • civil rights
  • emotion
  • participation
  • public opinion
  • race
  • voter ID

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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