Forthcoming in Political Behavior: “Reprecincting and Voting Behavior”

Reprecincting and Voting Behavior

Brian Amos, Daniel A. Smith, and Casey Ste. Claire

University of Florida

Abstract

Despite the expansion of convenience voting across the American states, millions of voters continue to cast ballots at their local precincts on Election Day. We argue that those registered voters who are reassigned to a different Election Day polling place prior to an election are less likely to turn out to vote than those assigned to vote at the same precinct location, as a new precinct location incurs both search and transportation costs on reassigned voters. Utilizing voter file data and precinct shape files from Manatee County, Florida, from before and after the 2014 General Election, we demonstrate that the redrawing of precinct boundaries and the designation of Election Day polling places is not a purely technical matter for local election administrators, but may affect voter turnout of some registered voters more than others. Controlling for a host of demographic, partisan, vote history, and geospatial factors, we find significantly lower turnout among registered voters who were reassigned to a new Election Day precinct compared to those who were not, an effect not equally offset by those voters turning to other available modes of voting (either early in-person or absentee). All else equal, we find that registered Hispanic voters were significantly more likely to abstain from voting as a result of being reassigned than any other racial group.

Here’s the link to the pre-publication draft.

Digging into the Florida voter file…

Here are some preliminary turnout numbers from the 2014 Florida statewide election gleaned from the Dec. 31, 2014 Florida voter file. (Standard caveats for discrepancies between the Florida Department of State’s “Official Results” and votes cast in the Division of Elections statewide voter file, as well as any rounding errors apply.)

Of those who cast ballots in the 2014 General Election, more than 42% were Republicans, 38% were Democrats, less than 17% were NPAs, with the balance comprised of those registered with third parties.

In terms of the race and ethnicity of the 2014 General Election electorate, more than 73% of those who turned out were white, slightly more than 12% were black, 10% were Hispanic.

So much for exit poll estimates, which overestimated black (14%) and Hispanic (13%) turnout, and underestimated the composition of the electorate that was white (69%).

Less than 44% of registered (active and inactive) Democrats, 31% of NPAs, and 55% of Republicans turned out to vote.  (Only 45% of the state’s registered Libertarians turned out to vote; so much for Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie or the chance to legalize Medical Marijuana smoking them out of their bunkers.)

Close to 50% of registered whites turned out to vote, but only 40% of registered blacks cast ballots. Even worse, only 30% of registered Hispanics and roughly 26% of registered multiracial and those of unknown race/ethnicity bothered to turn out to vote in the November 4, 2014 General Election.

More to come…