When North Carolina governor, Pat McCrory signed into law North Carolina’s voter ID laws in 2013, he promised that it was a “common-sense” decision that would not significantly impact people’s ability to vote. But was that the case?
In the fall of 2014, a group of RSL students in Kristin Goss’ “Politics of Public Policy” class—Jennifer Colton, Brendan McCartney, Alex Elliot, and Maddy Bolger—partnered with Democracy NC to answer this very question.
Democracy NC, a nonpartisan organization that uses research, organizing, and advocacy to increase voter participation and reduce the influence of big money in politics, was interested in studying the effects of North Carolina’s voter ID laws. These laws made many changes in voting policies, such as eliminating same-day voter registration, shortening the early voting period, and requiring government-issued photo ID in order to vote. Thus, these RSL students were asked to conduct surveys of Durham voters as they left the polls for the North Carolina General Election in order to understand their perceptions of the new voting laws.
Colton, McCartney, Elliot, and Bolger presented their findings at the North Carolina Political Science Association’s (NCPSA) annual conference in February 2015. Their research showed that the law had created many difficulties—such as the splitting of Duke into two precincts, the removal of on-campus polling places, and the elimination of out-of-precinct voting—and subsequently left many Duke students who had been planning on voting in the midterm elections unable to. The audience for their presentation was filled with students conducting similar research at other universities and political scientists interested in the topic.
One of the group members, Brendan McCartney, also wrote a column in The Chronicle, Duke’s independent student newspaper, about the issue entitled “How Duke Failed Its Students in 2014.” Read it here.