NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Were Republican Voters Victimized in Florida?

December 5, 2001

The newspapers that have been recounting the Florida votes have highlighted the racial disparity in spoiled ballots -- ballots not counted because they showed either no vote for president, or multiple votes. This has given a boost to election reform bills. But if spoiled ballots do indicate disenfranchisement, say researchers, newly released data that include party affiliation show that the group most victimized in the Florida voting was African-American Republicans.

According to their extensive analysis of the new data:

  • Voters who are African-American Republicans who voted in Florida were fifty-four to sixty-six times more likely than the average African-American to have had a ballot declared invalid because it was spoiled.
  • Another way of saying this is that, for every two additional black Republicans in the average precinct, there was one additional spoiled ballot.
  • By comparison, it took an additional 125 African-Americans (of any party affiliation) in the average precinct to produce the same result.

Among white voters, Republicans were much more likely than Democrats to have spoiled ballots. In addition, the overall rate of spoiled ballots was 14 percent higher when the county election supervisor was a Democrat, and 31 percent higher when the supervisor was an African-American Democrat.

It has also been claimed that low-income voters suffered spoiled ballots disproportionately. Yet, the data show, for example, that those in households making less than $15,000 a year had spoiled ballots at less than one-fifteenth the rate of voters in families making over $500,000.

Actually, income and race were only one-third as important in explaining spoiled ballots as the methods and machines used in voting.

Source: John R. Lott, Jr., and James K. Glassman, "Whose Votes Really Didn't Count in Florida?" On the Issues, November 2001, American Enterprise Institute.


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