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U. Maryland researchers: Racially biased whites’ ‘fear’ results in higher support for voter ID laws

A new report in Political Psychology by two University of Maryland researchers claims that among racially biased white voters, fear triggers greater support for voter ID laws.

Professor Antoine Banks and doctoral student Heather Hicks used the Implicit Association Test to “identify [white] individuals shown to have an implicit racial bias.”

As reported by The Diamondback, participants were then put in two different groups — one told to write down “what makes them calm or content,” and the other “what makes them fearful.”

“Both groups were then asked whether they support voter ID laws — laws that require some form of official identification to vote — and whether they think people who support voter ID laws do so because they want to decrease voter fraud.

“Fear motivated racially-biased white people to support voter identification laws at higher rates, with support of voter identification laws jumping from 76 percent while content to 92 percent when fearful, Banks said.”

From the article:

“The effect of implicit bias was biggest among Democrats; [fear] moved them the most,” Banks said, noting that it moved them the most because the Republicans polled were already so supportive of the law that they couldn’t increase their support as much. Democrats are typically far less supportive of voter ID laws — 63 percent compared to 95 percent of Republicans, according to a Gallup poll from August 2016.

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Banks noted that despite the dramatic change caused by fear, participants weren’t “aware that their racial bias [was] taking affect.” They believed they were making their selections based on protecting vote integrity, he said.

Participants were also asked whether or not they believed those who support voter ID laws do so because they want to limit voter fraud. Most of those who answered that they do support voter ID laws also answered that they believe those who support voter ID laws want to limit voter fraud.

Indeed. There’s just no way these folks’ concerns about voter fraud are valid given the results of the Implicit Association Test, right? Except, perhaps, for the “minor” fact that psychologists disagree on whether the IAT is a valid measure of (racial) bias.

Not to mention, the same Gallup poll cited by The Diamondback shows that over three-quarters of non-whites support a photo ID requirement for voting.

Are these folks racially biased … and “fearful”? Maybe the IAT should be given to them.

Read the full article.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 18 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.