“Race, Representation, and the Voting Rights Act”

Sophie Schuit and Jon Rogowski have written this article for AJPS.  Abstract:

Despite wide scholarly interest in the Voting Rights Act, surprisingly little is known about how its specific provisions affected Black political representation. In this article, we draw on theories of electoral accountability to evaluate the effect of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the preclearance provision, on the representation of Black interests in the 86th to 105th congresses. We find that members of Congress who represented jurisdictions subject to the preclearance requirement were substantially more supportive of civil rights–related legislation than legislators who did not represent covered jurisdictions. Moreover, we report that the effects were stronger when Black voters composed larger portions of the electorate and in more competitive districts. This result is robust to a wide range of model specifications and empirical strategies, and it persists over the entire time period under study. Our findings have especially important implications given the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Shelby County v. Holder.

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