By Brad Friedman on 10/6/2014, 6:35am PT  

I missed this Washington Post article when it first came out late last year. But thanks to too-occasional BRAD BLOG and Washington Monthly contributor D.R. Tucker, I was glad to catch it over the weekend.

It's based on a study by University of Massachusetts at Boston sociologist Keith Bentele and political scientist Erin O'Brien. They looked at restrictive voting statutes enacted over the past several years in all 50 states and the "dominant explanations (and accusations) advanced by both the right and left" in regard to legislation such as polling place Photo ID rules, stricter registration requirements, and other such restrictions on the basic right to vote.

What they found will absolutely NOT stun you in the least...

We began with no assumptions about the veracity of any claim. What we found was that restrictions on voting derived from both race and class. The more that minorities and lower-income individuals in a state voted, the more likely such restrictions were to be proposed. Where minorities turned out at the polls at higher rates the legislation was more likely enacted.

More specifically, restrictive proposals were more likely to be introduced in states with larger African-American and non-citizen populations and with higher minority turnout in the previous presidential election. These proposals were also more likely to be introduced in states where both minority and low-income turnout had increased in recent elections. A similar picture emerged for the actual passage of these proposals. States in which minority turnout had increased since the previous presidential election were more likely to pass restrictive legislation.
Restrictive laws were especially likely to pass when states both had larger Republican legislative majorities and had become increasingly competitive in the previous presidential election. Meanwhile, states that had become increasingly competitive but had larger Democratic majorities were less likely to pass restrictive laws.

Bentele and O'Brien went on to note that the findings cited above are particularly relevant to last year's (horrible) 5 to 4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which gutted the section of the Voting Rights Act requiring federal preclearance of voting related laws in those jurisdictions around the country (largely in the South) with a historic record of racial discrimination at the polls...

At root, the Court ruled that there is no compelling evidence localities previously covered under Section 5 of the Act intend to discriminate. Federal "preclearance" for changes to electoral law in these areas is therefore no longer warranted. Our findings call such assertions into question and, more broadly, suggest that challenges to the implementation and passage of voter access legislation are indeed merited on the grounds of racial bias.

Ultimately, recently enacted restrictions on voter access have not only a predictable partisan pattern but also an uncomfortable relationship to the political activism of blacks and the poor.

Yes. Imagine that.

* * *
Please help support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system --- now in our ELEVENTH YEAR! --- as available from no other media outlet in the nation...


Choose monthly amount...

(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)