A new University of California, San Diego study finds Republican-driven voter ID laws are hindering minority voter turnout heading into the 2016 presidential election.

Republican legislators have long argued the laws were designed to crack down on voter identity fraud, while critics have insisted instances of one person impersonating another in order to cast a ballot were extremely rare to begin with. Advocates aligned against the laws have also stressed they would disproportionately impact minority voters because these voters are much less likely to have state-issued forms of ID.

"We looked at it because there were a series of claims and counterclaims on both sides," said Zoltan Hajnal, one of the UC San Diego researchers conducting the study.

Hajnal and his team focused on voter turnout between 2008 and 2012 in states such as Texas, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, all of which have passed strict voter ID laws.

"Racial and Ethnic Turnout" Impacted

Their research concluded that "racial and ethnic turnout" declined more sharply than white turnout in states where the laws have actually been enacted. The study revealed Latino turnout decreased by an average of 9.3 points and black turnout by 8.6 points during primary elections where a strict voter ID law had been enacted. 

General election turnout was almost equally affected in these states, with "the predicted gap" between white and Latino voters swelling from 4.9 points to 13.5 points in those states. For African-Americans, the gap increased by 2.2 points. 

Brennan Center for Justice Deputy Director of Democracy Myrna Perez said she was fully expecting to confront such results. The New York-based voting rights group has already sued Texas on behalf of several residents who fear that they will be disenfranchised by an ID law there.

"Every election that happens with this law in effect, someone has their right to vote blocked," she told KUT.org. "Just because some voters were able to vote doesn't mean that other people were, and it doesn't mean that the people that weren't able to vote don't matter." 

Minority Voters Crucial on Election Day

Latin Post previously reported supporters of Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton invested $25 million in a non-partisan organization aimed at protecting and expanding voting rights for minorities. The group, called Every Citizen Counts, is dedicated to educating Latino and African-American voters about the impact they could have come Election Day in November.

"There have been too many efforts to restrict access to the polls, making it even more difficult to vote," ECC adviser Guy Cecil told The Associated Press. "We will engage at all levels: pushing for stronger legislation around early voting, same day registration and vote by mail, waging legal battles to roll back onerous laws and registering voters in underrepresented communities across the country."

Back in 2014, a U.S. Government Accountability Office survey found state voter ID laws disproportionately affect minorities. In the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Kansas, and Tennessee, 8 percent fewer Latino and African-American registered voters held valid IDs than white voters.

On Sunday night's episode of "Last Week Tonight," host John Oliver jumped into the raging debate by mocking those who argue the laws are "simple, common sense measures" that don't impact a significant number of people.

"By that standard you could say, 'We're going to incinerate everyone named Warren,'" Oliver said. "That's not a 'significant number of people,' but you are going to have a pretty justifiably upset Warren Beatty on your hands."  

Watch the clip below: