Updated (and to be updated again) paper by Herron and Smith. 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.