Latest APSA paper, “Evolution of an Issue: Voter ID Laws in the American States”

Coauthored with Seth McKee (Texas Tech University), and my University of Florida graduate students, Will Hicks and Mitch Sellers.

Available here for download.

In this paper we undertake a comprehensive examination of voter ID legislation in the American states, from 2001 through 2012. We show that there has been a notable evolution in the behavior of partisan lawmakers regarding their handling of this issue. Whereas in the early 2000s voter ID laws were few and primarily motivated by efforts to comply with the 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which was passed in response to the vote counting fiasco in Florida in the 2000 presidential election, more recently there is evidence of extreme partisan polarization regarding voter ID laws across state legislatures. With a dataset that includes over 1,000 proposed and nearly 100 enacted voter ID laws spanning a dozen years, we employ (1) negative binomial and multilevel over-dispersed Poisson count models and (2) pooled time series cross-sectional regression models with binary dependent variables, to determine the likelihood a state legislature in a given year introduces and adopts restrictive voter ID bills. It is clear from our evaluation of legislative activity on voter ID laws that they have evolved from a valence issue into a partisan battle where, with few exceptions, Republicans defend their enactment as a safeguard against fraud while Democrats indict them as the leading tactic for voter suppression. Though the partisan fight over voter ID laws is now common knowledge among political observers, the legislation is not uniform across the states; that is, not all Republican-controlled legislatures have pushed for more restrictive voter ID laws. We argue that a state’s broader electoral and demographic context—including a state’s turnout rate and whether or not it is a presidential battleground state—conditions why some Republican-controlled state legislatures have focused on voter ID laws as a useful political tool to shape the electorate. In an age of highly competitive partisan politics, when neither party can lay claim to a dominant electoral position, voter ID laws constitute an issue that both parties utilize to further their political interests. In short, the voter ID issue is a pawn in the larger partisan game of electoral politics.

Herron and Smith, “Precinct Closing and Wait Times in Florida during the 2012 General Election”

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 confi rms 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.

OK, it’s not Powerball, but the 2012 APSA State Politics & Policy Section Best Paper Award ain’t too shabby…

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.