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Racial Imagery and Support for Voter ID Laws


Previous research suggests that calls for voter ID laws include racialized appeals and that racial attitudes influence support for such laws. This study uses an experiment to test whether exposure to racial imagery also affects support for voter ID laws. The data come from a survey experiment embedded in the 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (N = 1,436) randomizing the race of a voter and poll worker shown to respondents (African American voter and poll worker, white voter and poll worker, or no image). The results show that white respondents who saw an image of an African American voter and poll worker expressed greater support for voter ID laws than those in the no image condition, even after controlling for the significant effects of racial resentment and political ideology. Exposure to an image of a white voter and poll worker did not produce a similar effect. The findings provide new evidence that public opinion about voter ID laws is racialized.

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Correspondence to Paul R. Brewer.

Appendix: Image Treatments

Appendix: Image Treatments

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Wilson, D.C., Brewer, P.R. & Rosenbluth, P.T. Racial Imagery and Support for Voter ID Laws. Race Soc Probl 6, 365–371 (2014).

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  • Voter ID laws
  • Survey experiment
  • Race
  • Imagery