Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 4-3-2020

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Public Policy Leadership

First Advisor

Kyle Fritz

Second Advisor

Marvin King, Jr.

Third Advisor

Jonathan Winburn

Relational Format

Honors Thesis


One of the most fundamental rights of democratic citizens is the right to vote. As a result, voters are entitled to equal opportunity to access the polls. Yet recently, states have begun instituting policies that impact individual access to polls, such as voter identification laws.

Since the 2013 dismantling of the Voting Rights Act, 35 states across the United States implemented voter identification laws varying in strictness and the forms of identification they accept. Numerous studies and articles have been written regarding the justification of these voter identification laws in conjunction with their disproportionate effects on certain minorities; however, many of these studies gave way to partisan biases and left significant gaps in the information provided.

This thesis uses the United Nations’ Johannesburg Principles as a tool for determining the justification of voter identification laws in the United States. The research in this thesis provides new information regarding voter identification laws and avoids partisan concerns by using an independent principle. I examine whether voter identification laws are justified nationally, but it is also important to look at the justification of these laws on a state-by-state basis. For this reason, I analyze Wisconsin’s voter identification law as a case study.

Future studies of the justification of voter identification laws could, and should, use this framework. Furthermore, this is a dynamic framework that has the potential to be applied to various laws in order to test their justification.



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