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Barriers to Voting (and Disproportionate Impact on Minorities) Political Science 61 / Chicano/Latino Studies 64 November 8, 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "Barriers to Voting (and Disproportionate Impact on Minorities) Political Science 61 / Chicano/Latino Studies 64 November 8, 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 Barriers to Voting (and Disproportionate Impact on Minorities) Political Science 61 / Chicano/Latino Studies 64 November 8, 2007

2 Review—Vote, 2004 Presidential Election, By Race/Ethnicity Source: Census Bureau, except Muslim data (poll)

3 Why the Gap? 1. Individual characteristics (composition) – Partial Review from Tuesday 2. Institutional barriers

4 Participation Differences at the Individual Level – Composition Demographics Age Education Income Non-U.S. citizenship Naturalized citizens participate at lower rates than U.S.- born Political socialization/political learning Decline in civics education Decline in social networks / “Bowling Alone”

5 State Structures that Limit Participation National First-past-the-post elections / Single member districts Electoral college Partisan districting/Non-competitive elections State/Local Voter registration Timing of elections Multiplicity of elections Direct democracy institutions (in some states) Ballot design Decentralization of authority to (untrained) local officials

6 The Palm Beach Butterfly Ballot

7 Emerging Institutional Barriers May Shape 2008 and Beyond New voting technologies and their implementation Complexity Failures of technology Malfeasance Need for poll worker training Identification requirements Advance voting and the reduction of polling places

8 In Current Debate – Voter ID Requirements Advocates contend Voter fraud common Non-citizens voting IDs are prevalent, so no cost to remedy a potentially serious problem Opponents’ concerns Little (no) evidence of voting fraud, so a remedy in search of a problem Not having IDs disproportionately occurs among elderly, urban populations, and minorities Voting clerks not trained to evaluate IDs, risk of disenfranchisement over documents Request for ID potentially intimidating to new voters and can be implemented in intimidating manner

9 Race/Ethnic Communities Can Overcome these Barriers Barriers can be overcome Leadership Organization Mass mobilization Chicken and egg Barriers more likely to appear in unorganized communities … issues can create incentive to mobilization All barriers more likely to effect new participants and those who do not participate regularly

10 Why do we not See More Minority Mobilization? Emphasis on minority voter registration Fewer resources for get-out-the-vote It’s more expensive People respond to being asked But candidates aren’t likely to ask in areas with few voters Candidates generally focus on regular voters Many big states haven’t had competitive elections for many years

11 Congressional Incentive: 1982 Amendments to VRA Mandate of “majority-minority” districts Immediate consequence: surge in Black and Latino officeholders Supreme Court has questioned the constitutionality of race-conscious districting Shaw v. Reno (1993) Bush v. Vera (1996) Newly composed court will quickly be asked to assess constitutionality of majority-minority districts Impact particularly great for geographically dispersed minorities: African Americans and Asian Americans

12 Minority Candidates also an Incentive for Minority Voters Remember discussion of 2006 races in last lecture Most elected from co-racial/co-ethnic districts But, majority-minority districts make more districts racially homogeneous May act as disincentive to minority participation

13 Minority Candidates and White Voters Minority candidates less likely to receive support from white voters (again remember Tuesday’s lecture) Racial messages Example – Republican National Committee ad targeting Harold Ford (D) in 2006 Tennessee Senate Race bc6726b5b7fece bc6726b5b7fece48071 Not simply an issue for the Democrats Alan Keyes – 2004 Republican Senate nominee, Illinois Roy Barrera, Jr. – 1986 Texas Attorney General nominee

14 Race/Ethnicity in Campaigns with no Minority Candidates Subtle messages target segments of the electorate Candidates careful to distance themselves from explicitly racial messages Example—the 1988 Willie Horton ad (Presidential race between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis) [http://livingroomcandidate.movingimage.us/election/index.php?nav_action=election&nav_subacti on=overview&campaign_id=174] Racial messages can be positive Example—George W. Bush and Spanish-language advertising in Iowa’s Republican presidential caucuses

15 In Sum Individual (compositional) effects explain much of the gap between majority and minority participation These gaps are exacerbated, however, by state structures make voting difficult, arguably not for good reasons (to prevent fraud) Minority candidates – encouraged by the 1982 VRA Amendments – can encourage minority participation But, minority candidates can disconnect white voters from their traditional party allegiances

16 Question for Next Time In 2001 and 2005, Jim Hahn faced Antonio Villaraigosa in the runoff for Los Angeles’ mayoralty. Each won one election. What changed between 2001 and 2005?


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