The lack of this crucial information, Crayton continued,
meant that Section 2 plaintiffs must gather much of that material through discovery, a litigation tool that involves far more time and resources than when Section 5 operated. Alabama’s current illegal congressional map represented nearly a full election cycle, denying Black voters an equal opportunity to elect elected candidates. At least part of this unjust delay is due to the additional time required to build the factual case showing the violation of Section 2.
Guy-Uriel Carlosa law professor at Harvard who directs the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, argued in an email that “from a democratic perspective,” partisan results are “the wrong way to think about voting rights.”
What matters most, in Charles’ opinion, “is whether voter suppression laws prevent eligible voters — whether those voters are Republican or Democrat; Black, White, Asian, Native American or Latino; live in the South or the North; poor or rich, college educated or not – of exercising what should be a fundamental right.”
In addition to Elias, there are others who challenge Grimmer and Hersh’s portrayal of minimal effects on election results resulting from new legislation.
Thad Kousserpolitical scientist at UCSD, wrote in an email that he sees “two potential caveats to Grimmer and Hersh’s overall message that voter participation reforms have ‘essentially no effect on party advantage’.”
First, Kousser wrote, “even marginal partisan effects can be consequential in a nail-bitingly close election.” Kousser pointed to an “illustrative example” that Grimmer and Hersh use,
a reform that increased turnout by 1.25 percentage points overall—a size similar to the effect of many real-world reforms—would yield a decrease in the Republican candidate’s margin of vote of 7,500 votes, out of 487,500 votes cast. Since the authors assume in their example that the state as a whole is strongly Republican, this would only reduce “the two-party share for the Republican candidate from 78.46 percent to 77.00 percent.” In that example, it wouldn’t be big enough to swing the election. But of course, if the state were much more closely contested, those 7,500 votes could change the winner. And if the votes were concentrated in a few legislative districts, they could also play an important role in those results.
Second, Kousser wrote,
There are a number of recent reforms that may have significantly greater effects than those reviewed by Grimmer and Hersh. California’s recent law, which shifts most off-cycle municipal elections to the same schedule as even-year presidential and gubernatorial elections, is proving to have significant effects on the size and composition of the electorates voting for mayors, county supervisors, and school boards.
Kousser pointed to a 2022 paper “Who votes: Municipal election time and voter composition” — from Zoltan L Hajnal, Vladimir Kogan and G. Agustin Markarianpolitical scientists at UCSD, Ohio State and Loyola University-Chicago—who examined the changed composition of the electorate in California when cities shifted from holding local elections on days separate from federal contests to holding them on the same day, known as “on cycle”. choices.”