“Local Response to Changes in Voting Rights Protections: Polling Place Closures Following Shelby County v. Holder,” Sanford Gordon, NYU

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Wednesday, April 10, 2024 - 12:00pm to 1:15pm
Institution for Social and Policy Studies (PROS77 ), A002 See map
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Abstract: We examine the effect of the Supreme Court’s decision to remove the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act on local decisions concerning the allocation of polling places. We consider two questions: first, following the decision,did covered jurisdictions experience a decline in the number of polling places relative to uncovered ones? And second, did the decision change the distribution of polling places within covered jurisdictions between areas with smaller and larger shares of nonwhite population? Using a dataset consisting of over 50,000 geocoded polling place locations in 26 states matched to local demographics from 2012 to 2018, we find, first, that the frequency of polling places in covered jurisdictions remained almost entirely flat following the 2013 decision. By contrast, it was uncovered jurisdictions that experienced a decrease in the number of polling places on average (likely owing to the adoption of early voting and vote by mail). Second, we find that the negative association between proportion nonwhite and polling place frequency grew relatively more severe in covered jurisdictions than in uncovered ones. Additional evidence suggests that this reflects a convergence in the degree of disparate treatment between covered and uncovered jurisdictions.

Sanford C. Gordon is professor and chair of the Wilf Family Department of Politics at New York University and an associated professor (by courtesy) in the New York University School of Law. His research on electoral accountability, law and public policy, interest group politics, bureaucratic and administrative politics, regulation, constitutional design, and political legitimacy has appeared in numerous journals in political science and related fields.

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