Race, Party, and the Consequences of Restricting Early Voting in Florida in the 2012 General Election
Political Research Quarterly
Michael C. Herron and Daniel A. Smith
In mid-2011, the Florida legislature reduced the state’s early voting period from fourteen days to eight and eliminated the final Sunday of early voting. We compare observed voting patterns in 2012 with those in the 2008 General Election and find that racial/ethnic minorities, registered Democrats, and those without party affiliation had significant early voting participation drops and that voters who cast ballots on the final Sunday in 2008 were disproportionately unlikely to cast a valid ballot in 2012. Florida’s decision to truncate early voting may have diminished participation rates of those already least likely to vote.
OnlineFirst: February 24, 2014
Available: Full Text (PDF)
Want evidence? Start here:
- Daniel A. Smith and Caroline Tolbert. 2007. “The Instrumental and Educative Effects of Ballot Measures: Research on Direct Democracy in the American States,” State Politics and Policy Quarterly 7 (4): 417-446.
- Caroline J. Tolbert and Daniel A. Smith. 2005. “The Educative Effects of Ballot Initiatives on Voter Turnout,” American Politics Research 33 (2): 283-309.
- Janine Parry, Daniel A. Smith, and Shayne Henry. 2011. “The Impact of Petition Signing on Voter Turnout,” Political Behavior 34: 117-36.
- Daniel A. Smith and Caroline J. Tolbert. 2010. “Direct Democracy, Public Opinion, and Candidate Choice,” Public Opinion Quarterly 74: 85-108.
- Todd Donovan, Caroline J. Tolbert, and Daniel A. Smith. 2009. “Political Engagement, Mobilization, and Direct Democracy,” Public Opinion Quarterly 73: 98-118.
- Todd Donovan, Caroline J. Tolbert, and Daniel A. Smith. 2008. “Priming Presidential Votes by Direct Democracy,” Journal of Politics 70: 1217-31.
- Daniel A. Smith, Matthew DeSantis, and Jason Kassel. 2006. “Same-Sex Marriage Ballot Measures and the 2004 Presidential Election,” State and Local Government Review 38 (2): 78-91.
- Daniel A. Smith. 2006. “Initiatives and Referendums: The Effects of Direct Democracy on Candidate Elections,” in Steven Craig, ed., The Electoral Challenge: Theory Meets Practice. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.
- Daniel A. Smith and Caroline J. Tolbert. 2003. “Educated by Initiative,” Campaigns and Elections, August 31.
- Daniel A. Smith and Caroline Tolbert. 2001. “The Initiative to Party: Partisanship and Ballot Initiatives in California,” Party Politics 7 (6): 739-57.
- Caroline Tolbert, John Grummel, and Daniel A. Smith. 2001. “The Effect of Ballot Initiatives on Voter Turnout in the American States,” American Politics Research 29 (6): 625-48.
Michael C. Herron and Daniel A. Smith. “Souls to the Polls: Early Voting in Florida in the Shadow of House Bill 1355,” Election Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy. September 2012, 11(3): 331-347. doi:10.1089/elj.2012.0157.
Two-time losers, the four petitioners in Worley v. Florida Secretary of State have filed a petition for certiorari asking the Supreme Court of the United States to hear their appeal of an unanimous decision handed down by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals last summer.
Here’s hoping the high court will hear the case, and reaffirm, once again, the ability of the state of Florida to enforce its campaign finance disclosure and disclaimer statutes.
(Full Disclosure: I served as the State of Florida’s expert defending the Florida Secretary of State and Florida’s disclosure laws for Political Action Committees.)
Our 2013 American Political Science Association paper, which we’ll be presenting in Chicago on September 1, is available here.
Here’s the Abstract:
Voting station congestion can be measured by late-closing precincts and long wait times to vote. With this in mind we study Election Day precinct closing times in 43 Florida counties and early voting wait times in one of Florida’s most prominent counties, Miami-Dade. Our analysis of the 2012 General Election covers 5,302 total Election Day precincts and all the early voting stations in Miami-Dade County. We show that Election Day precincts with greater proportions of Hispanic voters in November, 2012, had disproportionately late closing times and that precincts with many registered Democratic voters also tended to close relatively late. With respect to early voting wait times in Miami-Dade, we show that long wait times disproportionately affected black and Hispanic voters, and a natural experiment in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties confirms that the final voters on the last day of early voting in these two counties were disproportionately black, Hispanic, and registered Democratic. Voting place congestion in the 2012 General Election, therefore, did not affect all Floridians equally, and this study, one of the first statistical analyses of observed closing and wait times across thousands of precincts in a politically important state, shows how the electoral environment in the United States continue to reflect racial disparities.
Very nice to hear today that Michael Herron and my 2012 APSA paper, “Getting Your Souls to the Polls: The Racial Impact of Reducing Early In-Person Voting in Florida,” was unanimously selected as the Best Paper Award for the State Politics & Policy Section of the American Political Science Association.
The paper was subsequently published in Election Law Journal, and is available here.
Searching for Herron and Smith’s report for Advancement Project, Congestion at the Polls? It’s here: http://b.3cdn.net/advancement/f5d1203189ce2aabfc_14m6vzttt.pdf
Here’s a copy of the SB 600 amendment letter sent to the members of the Florida Senator regarding Sen. Latvala’s effort to restrict election assistance to disabled voters, which very well may violate several provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
It’s signed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Common Cause Florida, Rock the Vote, and the National Congress of Black Women.
Sen. Latvala’s amendment to the pending legislation is available here.
Michael C. Herron & Daniel A. Smith
April 15, 2013
Here’s a pdf of the Racial Justice Project’s amicus brief on behalf of Congressman John Lewis. My research with Prof. Michael Herron is cited on pp. 32-33, clipped below.
For the 2012 general election, only thirty-two of Florida’s sixty-seven counties, including the five counties covered by Section 5, offered the maximum ninety-six hours of early voting hours permitted under the new law. Minority voters again took advantage of the extra time to cast their votes. While African Americans made up less than 14% of Florida’s registered voters in 2012, they made up more than 22% of the early voter electorate on each day of the 2012 early voting period. Herron & Smith, at 11. However, because there was a reduction in the total number of early voting hours and days in 2012, including the elimination of the Sunday immediately before Election Day, there were fewer opportunities for minorities to vote early. In Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, voters stood in line to cast early votes for more than five hours during the weekend before Election Day. Id. at 20. In those two counties, African Americans made up only 16.7% of registered voters, but accounted for 43.8% of the early voters on Sunday, November 4, 2012. Id. at 21. The data tell the story. There is simply no question that without Section 5, a disproportionate number of minority voters in Florida would have been deterred from exercising their right to vote in 2012.