HKS Authors

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Abstract

In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down parts of the Voting Rights Act that mandated federal oversight of election laws in discriminatory jurisdictions, prompting a spate of controversial new voting rules. Utilizing difference-in-differences to examine the Act's 1975 revision, I provide the first estimates of the effects of "preclearance" oversight. I find that preclearance increased long-run voter turnout by 4-8 percentage points, due to lasting gains in minority participation. Surprisingly, Democratic support dropped sharply in areas subject to oversight. Using historical survey and newspaper data, I provide evidence that this was the result of political backlash among racially conservative whites.

Citation

Ang, Desmond. "Do 40-Year-Old Facts Still Matter? Long-Run Effects of Federal Oversight under the Voting Rights Act." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP18-033, October 2018.