Featured image for article

Voter ID and the “disparate impact” sham

The state superior court this week began hearing arguments in a lawsuit filed to overturn North Carolina’s 2018 voter ID requirement.

A cornerstone of the case made by those challenging the voter ID requirement is to taint the ID requirement as “racist” because it disproportionately impacts African Americans.

“Black voters may be able to jump through additional hurdles to be able to get an ID or to have a provisional ballot that’s counted,” said Allision Riggs, a lawyer for the voters who sued, but that “doesn’t negate the disparate impact.” (emphasis added)

Disparate impact is a standard used that insists statistical differences in outcomes is proof positive of discriminatory intent, even in the absence of any evidence of actual discriminatory intent.

Such a standard emboldened Riggs to declare that NC’s voter ID law was “designed to keep Black voters from the ballot box.”

The disparate impact standard, however, is a complete sham.

As Thomas Sowell wrote, “The implicit assumption is that such statistics about particular outcomes would normally reflect the percentage of people in the population. But, no matter how plausible this might seem on the surface, it is seldom found in real life, and those who use that standard are seldom, if ever, asked to produce hard evidence that it is factually correct, as distinct from politically correct.”

In other words, statistical disparities exist in every aspect of life. They are the norm, rather than the exception, and fail miserably to prove any discriminatory intent.

As Sowell also wrote,  “Statistical disparities extend into every aspect of human life,” and that “statistical disparities are commonplace among human beings.”

“Blacks are far more statistically ‘over-represented’ among basketball stars in the NBA,” Sowell continues. “Hispanics are similarly far more ‘over-represented’ among baseball stars than in the general population. Asian Americans are likewise far more ‘over-represented’ among students at leading engineering schools like M.I.T. and Cal Tech than in the population as a whole.”

According to the “disparate impact” standard used by Riggs, the sole determining factor in these disparities must be discrimination.

Statistical disparities among groups, however, are the norm in every facet of human life, including those in which discrimination clearly cannot possibly play a role. “Men are struck by lightning several times as often as women,” is one such example Sowell cites.

Finally, if leftists like Riggs insist that disparate impact is de facto irrefutable evidence of racist intent, why do they support increases in the minimum wage?

Research has long established that minimum wage increases disproportionately impact black workers, especially young black males.

How can woke progressives support a law that – according to their own disparate impact standards – must be racist?

Of course we know that leftists are not big on logical consistency, they only care about taking more power. They know disparate impact is insufficient to prove discriminatory intent, they just use the argument when it is convenient to them.

Brian Balfour / Senior Vice President of Research

Brian is Senior Vice President of Research at the John Locke Foundation