Archives for category: Race

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…

 

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.

William D. Hicks, Seth C. McKee, Mitchell D. Sellers, and Daniel A. Smith
Forthcoming in Political Research Quarterly.
Available here.
Abstract
We undertake a comprehensive examination of restrictive voter ID legislation in the American states from 2001 through 2012. With a dataset containing approximately one thousand introduced and nearly one hundred adopted voter ID laws, we evaluate the likelihood that a state legislature introduces a restrictive voter ID bill, as well as the likelihood that a state government adopts such a law. Voter ID laws have evolved from a valence issue into a partisan battle, where Republicans defend them as a safeguard against fraud while Democrats indict them as a mechanism of voter suppression. However, voter ID legislation is not uniform across the states; not all Republican-controlled legislatures have pushed for more restrictive voter ID laws. Instead, our findings show it is a combination of partisan control and the electoral context that drives enactment of such measures. While the prevalence of Republican lawmakers strongly and positively influences the adoption of voter ID laws in electorally competitive states, its effect is significantly weaker in electorally uncompetitive states. Republicans preside over an electoral coalition that is declining in size; where elections are competitive, the furtherance of restrictive voter ID laws is a means of maintaining Republican support while curtailing Democratic electoral gains.

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)

Early Voting in Florida in the Aftermath of House Bill 1355
Michael C. Herron & Daniel A. Smith
April 15, 2013

My colleague, Michael Herron at Dartmouth, and I have just finished crunching the 2012 General Election statewide voter file.

We’ll have lots to report in the coming days about the racial and ethnic voter participation in the November election, including statewide and county breakdowns for early voting and absentee voting. We’ll also have some data to report on the rejection rates of provisional ballots and absentee ballots  across racial and ethnic groups.

But for now, one item that caught my eye this morning was the considerable inflation of supposed Latino voter participation in the 2012 General Election.

According to the 2012 CNN General Election Exit Polls for Florida, (a screen shot is here: Florida2012ExitPoll), Florida’s electorate was:

67% White

13% African American

17% Latino

Further analysis of the Florida exit polls conducted by the Pew Research Hispanic Center immediately after the election, “Latino Voters in the 2012 Election,” found that “Hispanics made up a growing share of voters in three of the key battleground states in yesterday’s election.” According to the report, “Hispanics made up 17% of the Florida electorate this year, up from 14% in 2008.”  The Pew Report continued:

The state’s growing non-Cuban population—especially growth in the Puerto Rican population in central Florida—contributed to the president’s improved showing among Hispanic voters. This year, according to the Florida exit poll, 34% of Hispanic voters were Cuban while 57% were non-Cuban. Among Cuban voters, the vote was split—49% supported Obama while 47% supported Romney. Among the state’s non-Cuban voters, Obama won 66% versus 34% for Romney.

Yet, when matched against the Florida Division of Election’s December 31, 2012 voter file, our analysis suggests that the 2012 exit poll estimates considerably over-inflate the actual Latino makeup Florida’s 2012 electorate.

In 2012, roughly 8.43 million Floridians cast ballots in the General Election.

According to our analysis of the state’s voter history file, a little more than 1 million citizens who self-identified on their voter registration cards as Latino voted in the 2012 election.  That’s only 12.5% of Florida’s 2012 electorate.

In contrast, nearly 14% of Florida’s 2012 actual electorate was African American, close to a full percentage point greater than the exit poll estimates.  White voters were similarly under-represented in the exit poll estimates, as slightly more than 68% of Florida’s 2012 electorate was white.  (Incidentally, Floridians who voted in the 2012 General Election and who identified as “Other” or “Multi-racial” on their voter registration cards tallied less than 2% of the vote in 2012.)

For now, I will leave it for others to interrogate why the 2012 Exit Polls considerably over-inflated Latino turnout in Florida, but I have some suspicions that I will offer down the road as time permits.

Dartmouth College’s Dr. Michael Herron and I have posted this paper analyzing the racial/ethnic and partisan composition of the early voters in Florida prior to the 2012 General Election.

In addition, we provide details about the voters who were forced to wait in line due to delays Saturday night in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, and who ended up casting their ballots after midnight, on Sunday, November 4, 2012.

 

Early Voting in Florida, 2012

Michael C. Herron & Daniel A. Smith
November 6, 2012

Abstract

In this paper we examine early voting patterns in the days preceding the 2012 General Election.
Drawing on the Florida statewide voter registration database (as of October 1, 2012) and 67
county-level early voting files made public by the Florida Department of State, we disaggregate
by party and by racial and ethnic group the 2.4 million votes cast in person before November 6,
2012. We find that early voting was heaviest on the final Saturday of early voting and that racial
and ethnic minorities, as well as individuals registered as Democrats and individuals registered
as “No Party Affiliation,” were disproportionately more likely than whites and Republicans,
respectively, to cast ballots on both the first Sunday and the final Saturday of early voting.
We also find that votes cast during the very early morning hours of Sunday, November 4, in
Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties—locations that suffered from exceedingly long lines
on Saturday, November 3—were disproportionately cast by black voters. Insofar as the longest
early voting lines appear to have occurred on the day in which minority voter turnout was the
greatest, it appears that minority voters, and in particular black voters, have borne heavily the
burden of House Bill 1355, a piece of election-reform legislation passed by the Florida state
legislature in 2011, which among other things reduced the early voting period in Florida from
14 to eight days and eliminated early voting on the final Sunday before a Tuesday election.

Judge Corrigan’s decision is available here:

Order 9242012

Here’s some more information about the 41 (out of the  2,625 people  flagged by the FL Secretary of State as  being “potential noncitizens”) who ended up being purged from the voter rolls.

Again, that’s 41 registered voters the FL SOS was able to  identify and purge as “potential noncitizens,” out of some 11.2 million eligible citizens on Florida’s voter rolls.

So, who are the 41 registered voters who were purged by the FL SOS (out of its list of 2,625 “potential noncitizens”). Of the 41 who were purged, the SOS had no record of 31 of them ever voting.   Six 6  were registered in 2008 and 6  were registered in 2010 & 2011.  Another 27 were registered to vote  between 1990 & 2007.  In fact, the FL SOS provided no information on the date when two of the suspected “noncitizens” it identified and subsequently purged where even registered to vote, much less ever voted, in the Sunshine State.

Of the 41 purged “potential noncitizens” identified by the FL SOS, 21 are at least 45 years old, 13 are women, and 21 are from Miami-Dade and Broward counties in south Florida.

Let’s take a closer look at the racial/ethic breakdown of the 1,599 “potential noncitizens” residing in Miami-Dade who were among the 2,625 people targeted by FL SOS.  Of those tagged as being a “potential noncitizen,” 1,214 are Hispanic, 152 are black, 75 are white, and 27 are Asian.

In all, the FL SOS purged just 15 of the 2,625 “potential noncitizens” it identified as living in Miami-Dade county.  That’s 15 wrongly registered voters out of more than 1.2 million citizens who are registered to vote in the county.

Of the 75 whites & 27 Asians identified  as “potential noncitizens” by FL SOS, none were purged from the rolls.  Of the 15 who were purged, 2 are African American & 11 are Hispanic.

With respect to the partisanship of the FL SOS’s flawed purge, the Miami-Dade list of “potential noncitizens” included 590 Democrats, 641 NPAs, and 354 Republicans.  Five of each were purged from the rolls by the FL SOS for being “potential noncitizens.”
Seems to me that’s an awful lot of false positives — citizens who were wrongly targeted and harassed by the Florida Secretary of State as being “potential noncitizens.”
The illegal purging of Florida’s registered voters must come to an end.

Well, it looks like the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center’s hard-hitting TV issue ads that ran in Colorado in 2008, calling out Ward Connerly for his deceptive effort to ban Affirmative Action, were spot-on.

New York Times has the latest in the alleged con-job he’s been running.

Here’s an excerpt from my 2005 Election Law Journal article with Elizabeth Garrett on “Veiled Political Actors” in ballot issue campaigns, which highlighted some of Connerly’s deceptive practices, which turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg :

Using 501(c)s to shield the identities of entities active in direct democracy is likely only to increase. The American Civil Rights Coalition
(ACRC) was established by Ward Connerly in 1997 following the passage of California’s Proposition 209, the successful 1996 anti-affirmative action initiative. The ACRC was the sponsor of Proposition 54, a racial privacy initiative that attempted to prohibit state and local governments from collecting data on or using classifications based on race, ethnicity, color, or national origin. According to campaign finance filings with the FPPC, ACRC contributed 94 percent ($1,570,400 of $1,671,958) of the total raised in 2001–02 by the ballot issue committee, Yes on Proposition 54/Racial Privacy Initiative Sponsored by American Civil Rights Coalition.112 The contributions made to ACRC were subsequently transferred to its sister ballot committee to help finance the paid signature-gathering effort to qualify the measure.113

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