Archives for category: African American

As of yesterday evening, 1.15m votes have been cast in the three big SE Florida counties (so, excluding Monroe County).

There are 1.7m registered Democrats in these three Democratic-rich counties; that’s roughly 46% of the 3.7m registered voters as of October 1, 2016.

So far, Democrats have accounted for 50% of the total ballots cast (EIP and VBM). That’s a very good sign for the Clinton camp. NPAs, whose share of registered voters in the three populous counties is 27% of all registrants (slightly higher than the percentage of Republicans, at 25%), account for nearly 21% of total votes cast as of last night.  This is potentially good sign for Clinton. Why?  Because turnout of NPAs in SE Florida often is not very robust, but Clinton needs NPAs in the three counties because (as the chart below shows), the NPAs who have voted already are disproportionately more likely to be Hispanics.

Of the 234.5k NPAs who’ve already mailed in their ballots or voted in person, 42% are Hispanic, and polling suggests that Clinton is doing fine with Hispanics in SE Florida, even in Miami-Dade County.

Another good sign for Clinton is that black voters in the three counties have started to return their VBM and turn out during EIP.  Blacks make up slightly less than 19% of the registered voters in DAD, BRO, and PAL.  So far, they constitute slightly less than 18% of the total early (EIP and VBM) votes cat in SE Florida. Including today, there’s still 5 days left of early voting (including this coming Saturday and Sunday) to GOTV, so the dire warnings of low black turnout may be premature.

As I’ve said countless times, be careful reading early the early voting tea leaves…lots of voting left to be had in the Sunshine State.

fl-eip-vbm-combined-through-nov-1-2016-party-race-dad-bro-pal

In light of several news articles that have reported the findings of a recent joint NCSL & PEW Report, “Who We Elect: The Demographics of State Legislatures,” I thought it might be useful to convey some points made by Dr. Carl Klarner regarding the inherent problem when comparing “average” state legislative racial and ethnic (and other socio-demographic data) with national averages.  As Klarner writes in his recent Report (p6),

“state level figures [should] always [be] weighted by state population when being averaged to the nation level. This is done to approximate the importance of a particular state legislative chamber….
The issue of weighting by population is especially relevant to assessing minority representation, as it makes a big difference. Reports of minority state legislators frequently state them as a percentage of all legislators in the country.17  It is also sometimes asserted that descriptive representation is lower in state legislatures than in the U.S. House. But it is important to take the varying size of state legislative districts into account. For example, there are currently 498 African-American state house members, or 9.2% of the 5,411 state house members in the United States. But African-American state house members actually represent 11.9% of the United States, if you factor in the size of the districts they represent. This is substantially closer to the 13.7% of the United States that is African-American.18  The simple reason for this is that Northeastern states, with unusually large state houses, have few African-Americans living in them. Looking at minority descriptive representation in this way gives us more insight into what types of electoral arrangements are conducive to the fair representation of racial minorities.”

I agree with Dr. Klarner. Weighting state legislators by population is essential when comparing national averages with minority representation across the 99 state legislative chambers.

According to the 2010-2014 5-year averages of the American Community Survey (ACS), conducted by the U.S. Census, African-Americans make up approximately 13.7% of the national population, Hispanics 16.9%, and Asians 5.9%.

According to Dr. Klarner, here are the percentages of current state legislators who are racial/ethnic minorities, unweighted v. weighted:

State House Members                   Unweighted                Weighted

  • African-American:                       9.2%                             11.9%
  • Latino                                           4.0%                               8.5%
  • Asians                                          1.5%                              2.3%

 

State Senators                                Unweighted                Weighted

  • African-American:                         8.3%                             10.1%
  • Latino                                           3.6%                               6.9%
  • Asians                                          1.7%                              1.9%

 

More later…

 

Early voting is underway in the runoff election for Mayor of the City of Jacksonville.  According to a report by the Florida Times Union, only 4,275 ballots were cast on Monday (yesterday), the first day of early voting, in the 18 early voting sites located across Duval County.

In the 2011 mayoral runoff election, strong turnout by African Americans during the two weeks of early voting helped to tip the scales for Alvin Brown who won his first term as Jacksonville’s mayor.

African Americans in Duval County — even more so than the rest of Florida — have become habituated to vote early. Facing an array of obstacles limiting their ability to cast a vote on a Tuesday—the traditional election day even in municipal elections—or remaining dubious about having their absentee ballots count, thousands of African Americans in Jacksonville have taken advantage of the convenience of voting early, which was enacted by a Republican legislature and signed into law in 2004 by Governor Jeb Bush. In the 2011 Jacksonville municipal election, black voters in Duval County were especially likely to vote on the final Sunday before Election Day, taking their Souls to the Polls.

In 2011, African Americans made up roughly 28% of the registered voters in Duval County (about the same today), with white registered voters comprising about 62% of the county’s voter rolls (today, whites make up about 60% of the county’s electorate).  Jacksonville African Americans, however, were disproportionately more likely to go early to the polls to vote in the 2011 municipal election when compared to other racial or ethnic groups.

Figure 1, below, plots the daily composition (that is, the fraction of early voters on each day that is of a particular race/ethnicity) of the early voting electorate in the 2011 Jacksonville mayoral contest.  It reveals that African Americans relied much more heavily on early voting, Of the approximately 38,000 registered voters in Duval County who voted early over the two-week early voting period prior to Election Day (May 17, 2011), African Americans cast roughly 34% of the early votes, even though they comprised just 28% of the electorate.

Figure 1: Racial and Ethnic Composition (Percentage) of Early Voters in Duval County, May 2011 Mayoral Runoff Election

Jax2011EarlyVoting

What is most notable from Figure 1 is the huge spike in early votes by African Americans on the final day of early voting, Sunday, May 15, 2011. In fact, on that final Sunday of early voting, even though they comprised less than a third of registered voters, more African Americans came to the polls to vote in the Jacksonville runoff election than did whites.

Early voting has just started; it runs through May 17.  I suspect we’ll see a surge of early voters — especially African Americans — in the days to come, especially the final Sunday of early voting, Sunday May 17, 2015.

Details about where and when early voting is available can be found on the Duval County Supervisor of Elections website.

Michael Herron and I have posted this draft for the March symposium on voting rights for the Florida State University Law Review.

Here is the abstract:

Shortly after the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder struck down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), the state of North Carolina enacted an omnibus piece of election-reform legislation known as the Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA). Prior to Shelby portions of North Carolina were covered jurisdictions per the VRA’s Sections 4 and 5—meaning that they had to seek federal preclearance for changes to their election procedures—and this motivates our assessment of whether VIVA’s many alterations to North Carolina’s election procedures are race-neutral. We show that in presidential elections in North Carolina black early voters have cast their ballots disproportionately in the first week of early voting, which was eliminated by VIVA; that blacks disproportionately have registered to vote during early voting and in the immediate run-up to Election Day, something VIVA now prohibits; that registered voters in the state who lack two VIVA-acceptable forms of voter identification, driver’s licenses and non-operator identification cards, are disproportionately black; that VIVA’s identification dispensation for voters at least 70 years disproportionately benefits white registered voters; and, that preregistered sixteen and seventeen year old voters in North Carolina, a category of registrants that VIVA prohibits, are disproportionately black. These results illustrate how VIVA will have a disparate effect on black voters in North Carolina.

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

Abstract

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)

“Race, Shelby County, and the Voter Information Verification Act in North Carolina”
Michael C. Herron and Daniel A. Smith
February 11, 2014

Abstract

Shortly after the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), the state of North Carolina enacted an omnibus piece of election-reform legislation known as the Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA). Prior to Shelby portions of North Carolina were covered jurisdictions per the VRA’s Sections 4 and 5—meaning that they had to seek federal preclearance for changes to their election procedures—and this motivates our assessment of whether VIVA’s many alterations to North Carolina’s election procedures are race-neutral. We show that black early voters in North Carolina have in presidential elections cast their ballots disproportionately in the first week of early voting, an early voting week that VIVA has eliminated; that blacks in the state disproportionately have registered to vote during early voting and in the immediate run-up to Election Day, something that VIVA prohibits; that North Carolina registered voters who lack two VIVA-acceptable forms of voter identification, drivers licenses and nonoperator identification cards, are disproportionately black; that VIVA’s identification dispensation for voters at least 70 years is a disproportionate benefit to whites; and, that preregistered 16 and 17-year old voters in North Carolina, a category of registrants that VIVA prohibits, are disproportionately black. These results illustrate how VIVA will have a disparate effect on black voters in North Carolina.


Available for download, here

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.

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 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.

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