Dr. Daniel A. Smith is University of Florida Research Foundation (2010-2012) Professor of Political Science and President of ElectionSmith, Inc. He is former Director of the Political Campaigning Program at the University of Florida. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin - Madison in 1994, and his B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa) in History and Political Science (Foreign Affairs) from Penn State University in 1988.
Professor Smith's research examines how political institutions affect political behavior across and within the American states. Currently, he is working with Dr. Michael C. Herron (Dartmouth College), examining how changes to election laws in the American states are influencing voter participation.
Dr. Smith has published more than sixty scholarly articles and book chapters on politics in the American states. His book with Caroline J. Tolbert, Educated by Initiative: The Effects of Direct Democracy on Citizens and Political Organizations in the American States (University of Michigan Press, 2004), examines the “educative effects” of the initiative process on voter turnout, citizen engagement, and political efficacy, as well as the indirect impact citizen lawmaking has on interest groups and political parties. Smith’s first book, Tax Crusaders and the Politics of Direct Democracy (Routledge, 1998), investigated the financial backing and the populist-sounding rhetoric of three anti-tax ballot initiatives: Proposition 13 in California (1978), Proposition 2 1/2 in Massachusetts (1980), and Amendment 1 in Colorado (1992). He is also the coauthor, with Todd Donovan, Tracy Osborne, and Christopher Mooney of a widely-used textbook, State and Local Politics: Institutions and Reform (Cengage, 2015), now in its 4th edition.
Professor Smith serves on the Board of Directors of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center Foundation (BISCF), a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, and is a member of the Board of Scholars with the Initiative and Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California. Smith served as a Senior Fulbright Scholar at the University of Ghana in 2000-01 and as a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Democratic Development in 2011, and has written widely on contemporary Ghanaian electoral politics.
A seasoned observer of ballot initiative campaigns around the country, and on the politics of Florida, Professor Smith’s commentary has appeared in or has been heard on numerous news media, including The New York Times, the Economist, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, BBC, National Public Radio, Voice of America, and ABC and NBC News. Professor Smith has advised the state legislatures of Colorado and Florida, as well as numerous groups across the country, on the mechanics of the initiative process and the politics of voting rights and redistricting. He has served as an expert witness in several legal cases dealing with ballot measures, campaign finance laws, voting rights, and redistricting, and is the lead author of an amicus brief in Doe v. Reed, decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in 2010.
Check out my report for the ACLU of Florida, “Vote-By-Mail Ballots Cast in Florida.” Vote-by-mail ballots cast in the 2012 and 2016 general election had a higher rejection rate than votes cast at assigned precincts on Election Day and at early voting sites, and more importantly, younger voters and racial and ethnic minority voters were much more likely to cast mail ballots that were rejected and were less likely to have their ballots cured.
The precincts below have at least 100 Hatian-born naturalized citizens who voted in the 2016 General Election, and at least 50% of those who turned out in the precinct are black (according to the statewide voter file). Most of these heavily Haitian precincts are in Miami-Dade County, but several others are in Palm Beach and Broward counties. There are even a couple in Orange County. Despite having druthers over (or downright anger towards) the Clinton Foundation and its overt meddling over the years in Haitian elections and ineffective disaster relief, every one of these heavily Haitian precincts went heavily for Hillary, most with well above 80% of the two-party vote.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis’ comment, that Florida shouldn’t “monkey this up” by electing Democrat nominee, Andrew Gillum, only adds to the pile President Trump started when he referred to Haiti and some African nations as “shithole countries.”
Although the Anti-Trump vote looms large in Florida, with some independents and Republicans experiencing buyer’s remorse, mobilization of younger people of color remains the key for any prospects of a Blue Wave in Florida.
Here’s turnout, by age, of registered blacks in the 2014 General Election. Turnout among the nearly 1.8m registered blacks in the 2014 midterm was 41.5%.
And here’s turnout of registered Hispanics in the 2014 General Election. Turnout among the 1.9m registered Hispanics in 2014 was just 31.1%.
Contrast minority turnout in Florida in 2014 with white turnout, by age. of the nearly 8.5m registered white voters in Florida in 2014, 51.5% cast ballots in the November election.
If Democrats–from Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum on down–are going to win in Florida, there needs to be massive GOTV to mobilize younger minority voters to the polls.