Campaign 2010

Jun 21, 2004

Recardo Gibson: Disenfranchised

Recardo Gibson is an occasional guest poster at the Stakeholder.

The Civil Rights Project of Harvard University (html ; pdf) conducted research that discovered:

Several empirical studies conducted since November 2000 have found this nationwide pattern of ballot spoilage to have a clear disparate impact on minority communities.


A study by the House Committee on Government Reform found that voters in low-income, high minority congressional districts throughout the country were three times more likely to have their votes for president discarded than those in more affluent, low-minority districts, and were twenty times more likely to have their votes for Congress go uncounted.



Others note that precinct variations in spoiled ballot rates are strongly correlated with the percent of black and Hispanic registered voters, suggesting that the more minorities resided in a precinct, the greater the percent of uncounted ballots.

The report goes on to say:


The Civil Rights Project study of residual ballot rates found a strong relationship between ballot spoilage and black population; specifically, as the black population in a county increases, the spoiled ballot rate correspondingly increases.


A brief exploration of spoilage rates by racial makeup of the county is illustrative: counties with black populations over the national average (12%) had an average spoiled ballot rate that was approximately one percent greater than the rate in counties that were less than 12 percent black. In other words, a voter was much more likely to have their ballot go uncounted if they lived in a predominantly black county.



Evidence from the study by the Government Reform Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives supports these findings, noting that while improved voting technology reduces the percentage of discarded ballots across the board, these improvements still do not fully address the disparities between voting precincts, particularly between high-minority and low-minority districts.

Meanwhile, an NYT op-ed relays some tales form South Dakota:


That story is one of many circulating in South Dakota about Native Americans illegally turned away or harassed when they tried to vote on June 1. Another woman says that when she voted on the Pine Ridge reservation, she saw an Indian walking out of the polling place visibly upset. “They won’t let me vote because I don’t have a photo ID,” he told her. There are more reports like this, and at least one of white election officials improperly opening a ballot box in an Indian area after the polls closed.

This is troubling.

Want the latest updates? Follow the DCCC on Facebook and Twitter: