Now in Print: “A Principle or a Strategy? Voter Identification Laws and Partisan Competition in the American States”

You can download it from Political Research Quarterly here.

William D. Hicks, Seth C. McKee, Mitchell D. Sellers, and Daniel A. Smith, “A Principle or a Strategy? Voter Identification Laws and Partisan Competition in the American States,” Political Research Quarterly2015: 1833.

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.

Full Text (PDF)

References

Replication Data

You Want Numbers? Florida Secretary of State Voter Purge Netted 10 “Potential Noncitizens” who may have Voted

That’s right.

10

Out of 11.2 million or so voters on the official statewide rolls as of April 1, 2012.

Here’s some quick analysis…

Approximately 0.000088496% of the current statewide voter roll may have voted illegally once (or perhaps more) over the past decade or so.

The percentage is even less when you consider the tens of MILLIONS of votes cast in local and statewide elections in Florida since 2006.

Notwithstanding the hundreds of Florida citizens who have been falsely accused by the Florida Secretary of State as being “potential noncitizens” who are supposedly corrupting the integrity of our voting system, it’s great to see that Governor Scott has exposed the myth of voter fraud in Florida.

Or not.

You see, the Florida Division of Elections, in its ill-advised and likely illegal effort to purge the voter rolls of what it claims are “potential noncitizens,” originally identified some 182,000 individuals who fit the bill.

Well, not confident in its list, the (new) Secretary of State, Ken Detzner (you see, the previous SOS, Kurt Browning, who was no angel himself when it came to protecting the right of Florida citizens to vote, resigned when he didn’t have enough confidence in the purge list his office originally generated, but that Governor Scott wanted him to pursue), pared it down to some 25,000 names, and then, finally, to 2,625 names, which his office then shipped off to the 67 Supervisors of Elections to do his dirty work.

Some of the SOEs balked, understandably.

But after the purging was done by the independently elected Supervisors of Elections, Governor Scott proudly defended the Secretary of State’s effort, saying to NPR, “We found that nearly 100 individuals that are non-U.S. citizens are registered to vote and over 50 have voted in prior elections.”

Now, the facts.

First, as I’ve documented elsewhere on these pages, no evidence has been provided by the Secretary of State that the 107 “potential noncitizens” it touted as being removed from its list were indeed noncitizens.

Second, also as I’ve documented here, a majority of the 107 individuals who were removed from the voter rolls were not even on the Florida Secretary of State’s purge list of 2,625 “potential noncitizens” that it sent to the Supervisors of Elections. Only 41 of the 107 names were on the SOS’s purge list of “potential noncitizens.”

As for those 41 (out of 2,625) individuals who the SOS identified as “potential noncitizens” and who the SOEs removed from the rolls (presumably after the SOEs–who do the actual purging–received proof), I have crunched the numbers, and identifying exactly 10 who may have cast a ballot.

Here’s the breakdown of the epidemic of alleged “noncitizens” voting, with the county and the last date of the election in which someone using that “potential noncitizen’s” name cast a ballot.

DAD 11/7/2006
HIL 11/7/2006
DAD 11/4/2008
LEE 11/4/2008
PAS 11/4/2008
OKA 11/2/2010
DAD 6/28/2011
ALA PRE-2006
BRO PRE-2006
DAD PRE-2006

Really? That’s it? We should have confidence in the Secretary of State’s new effort to purge Florida voters by matching data from the federal Department of Homeland Security with its own admittedly “obsolete” data?

Frankly, I’d rather trust casting a legitimate vote in Senegal.

Will Florida Election Law #HB1355 Increase Absentee Ballot Voter Fraud?

I’ve been writing a lot over the past five months about House Bill 1355, dubbed by many as Florida’s ignominious voter suppression law. HB1355  is being challenge in federal court, and the US Justice Department has yet to grant preclearance of portions of the law which cover five Florida counties covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.  Defending the law, the Florida Secretary of State is suing in Federal Court to not only uphold all sections of the law, but to strike down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Most of the attention that I and others have given to HB1355 has focused on three areas that the GOP-controlled legislature cracked down on in order to make it more difficult for citizens of Florida to register to vote and cast a ballot, namely:

1) Reducing the number of days for early voting from 14 days to eight days, and altogether eliminating early voting on the Sunday before the Tuesday election.

2) Requiring third-party voter registration organizations to submit voter registration applications within 48 hours of receipt instead of ten days as provided by existing law, and imposing a fine of $50 for each failure to comply with the deadline, and imposing fines up to $1,000 for failing to comply with other provisions.

3) Disallowing voters who move from one Florida county to another to make an address change at the polls on the day of an election and vote a regular ballot, except for active military voters and their family members.

(Less attention has been given to the portion of the law that reduces the shelf-life of citizen initiative petition signatures proposing constitutional amendments from four years to two years.)

Virtually no attention has been given to HB1355’s impact on absentee voting in Florida. The reason is fairly simple: the law has actually made it easier for citizens to cast an absentee ballot, and actually, increases the likelihood of voter fraud.

Absentee ballot fraud is not limited to Miami mayoral races. Just yesterday, several people in Madison County, including a candidate for school board, were arrested and charged with obtaining absentee ballots for other people without the voters’ knowledge or consent.  The candidate and her accomplices then provided an alternate address for the ballots to be mailed by the Supervisor of Elections, and allegedly then retrieved the ballots from the third party locations, brought the ballots to the voter, sometimes with the ballots already filled out, and then had the voter sign the absentee ballot signature envelope.

Tragically, HB1355 eliminates the provision that existed in 2010 when the fraud occurred, making future absentee ballot fraud more difficult to prosecute. Prior to the election code being changed by the Republican legislature in 2011, Supervisors of Elections were required to send absentee ballot to a voter’s registered address, unless the voter was absent from the county, hospitalized, or temporarily unable to occupy their residence.

But these provisions to reduce the possibility of absentee voter fraud were stricken by HB1355.  Instead of being required (with the forgoing exceptions) to send an absentee ballot “By nonforwardable, return-if-undeliverable mail to the elector’s current mailing address on file with the supervisor,” supervisors now may be asked by anyone (even over the phone) to mail an absentee ballot “to any other address the elector specifies in the request.”

HB1355 is an embarrassment, plain and simple. The Republican-controlled legislature’s intention was not to reduce voter fraud, of which there is virtually none when it comes to voter registration and early voting.  The reason lawmakers turned a blind eye to absentee ballots in the state–where there is clear evidence of voter fraud–is because registered Republicans are much more likely to use this form of convenience voting than their Democratic counterparts.  In 2008, Republicans had a 10.8% lead over Democrats voting absentee ballots by Election Day.

Partisan politics in Florida have reached a new low.