Hot off the Press: “Precinct Closing Times in Florida During the 2012 General Election”

My latest with Michael Herron:

Herron, Michael C. and Daniel A. Smith. 2015. “Precinct Closing Times in Florida During the 2012 General Election,” Election Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy 14(3): 220-238.


The Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act has spurred a search for measures of election performance that extend beyond race-based registration and turnout rates. We contribute to this endeavor by studying patterns of precinct congestion in Florida during the 2012 General Election. With precinct closing times as proxies for congestion, our study covers 5,302 total Election Day precincts in Florida. We show that there was tremendous variance in closing times in Florida on Election Day in 2012 and that precincts with greater proportions of Hispanic voters closed disproportionately late. This finding holds even controlling for the number of pollworkers per precinct. Broadly speaking, voting place congestion in the 2012 General Election appears not to have affected all Floridians equally, and most notably the post-Shelby electoral environment in the United States continues to reflect racial disparities. With the loss of the Voting Rights Act’s retrogression standard, our analysis illustrates how precinct congestion data can be used to assess whether different racial/ethnic groups face different barriers to voting.

Who Waits? Exclusive research by Herron and Smith on Early Voting in Florida

In our paper, available here, we examine the long lines in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties which stretched from Saturday, November 3, into the final Sunday before the election of early voting in Florida. Not surprising, African Americans were disproportionately more likely to be negatively affected.

Here’s the key table and figure (pages 13-14):

Miami-Dade & Palm Beach County Early Voters, Sunday November 4, 2012