Monthly Archives: June 2016

Nick Stephanopolous’s “Race, Place and Power”

Now on SSRN.  Here’s the abstract:

A generation ago, the Supreme Court upended the voting rights world. In the breakthrough case of Thornburg v. Gingles, the Court held that minority groups that are residentially segregated and electorally polarized are entitled to districts in which they can elect their preferred candidates. But while the legal standard for vote dilution has been clear ever since, the real-world impact of the Court’s decision has remained a mystery. Scholars have failed to answer basic empirical questions about the operation of the Gingles framework. To wit: Did minorities’ descriptive representation improve due to the case? If so, did this improvement come about through the mechanisms—racial segregation and polarization—contemplated by the Court? And is there a tradeoff between minorities’ descriptive and substantive representation, or can both be raised in tandem?

In this Article, I tackle these questions using a series of novel datasets. For the first time, I am able to quantify all of Gingles’s elements: racial segregation and polarization, and descriptive and substantive representation. I am also able to track them at the state legislative level, over the entire modern redistricting era, and for black and Hispanic voters. Compared to the cross-sectional congressional studies of black representation that form the bulk of the literature, these features provide far more analytical leverage.

I find that the proportion of black legislators in the South rose precipitously after the Court’s intervention. But neither this proportion in the non-South, nor the share of Hispanic legislators nationwide, increased much. I also find that Gingles worked exactly as intended for segregated and polarized black populations. These groups now elect many more of their preferred candidates than they did prior to the decision. But this progress has not materialized for Hispanics, suggesting that their votes often continue to be diluted. Lastly, I find a modest tradeoff between minorities’ descriptive representation and both the share of seats held by Democrats and the liberalism of the median legislator. But this tradeoff disappears when Democrats are responsible for redistricting, and intensifies when Republicans are in charge. In combination, these results provide fodder for both Gingles’s advocates and its critics. More importantly, they mean that the decision’s impact can finally be assessed empirically.

Nick’s work is always great, so read it!

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USDC Denies Relief in EAC Proof of Citizenship Case

WaPo: “A federal judge in Washington on Wednesday rejected a request that would have blocked Kansas, Alabama and Georgia from enforcing proof-of-citizenship requirements for people using a federal form to register to vote.”  The case involves EAC executive director Brian Newby’s decision to modify the federal form instructions so as to require documentary proof of citizenship in these states, a decision the U.S. Justice Department does not defend.  The order is here.

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“Kevin Kennedy Bids Adieu”

Electionline has interview with Kevin Kennedy, Director and General Counsel of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board which was eliminated by the state legislature.  I wrote about the EAC’s election administration work in this UCI Law Review article a few years ago.  Kevin is a dedicated public servant and a decent man.  Though the Wisconsin legislature may feel differently, I’m sad to see him go.

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Wice on 2020 Census Residence Criteria

Jeff Wice writes at New York Election News:

Of major importance is a change to the way prison population are reported. After the 2010 census, New York, Maryland  and Delaware enacted laws to reassign prisoner populations to “homes of record” before incarceration (Delaware delayed implementation until 2020). California now plans to reassign prisoners after 2020.

Today’s proposed rules  represent a major step forward to assist states with prisoner reassignments for redistricting

Update:  Demos and Prison Policy Initiative have this statement on the Census proposal, which begins:

Our organizations, and hundreds of allies around the country, are profoundly disappointed by the Census Bureau proposal to again count nearly 2 million people in the wrong place on Census day. Continuing this outdated practice will ensure an inaccurate 2020 Census and another decade of prison gerrymandering.


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