Ecological Inference in Voting Rights Act Disputes: Where are We Now, and Where Do We Want to Be?
53 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2011
Date Written: October 16, 2007
Recent developments in law and in quantitative methods have combined to place greater emphasis on coherent and accurate techniques of drawing inferences about racial voting patterns in Voting Rights Act litigation. In this article, I examine the challenge the secret ballot poses for such inferences; I then discuss four so-called “ecological inference” methods designed to address the issue. I argue that the two techniques that have dominated this field for more than 20 years should be abandoned; that a third, well-publicized method should be used only when no other is feasible; and that a fourth, while representing the state of the art at present, has shortcomings that researchers should address. To aid in understanding, I apply each technique outlined to a concrete data set. I conclude with a discussion of what makes a good method.
Keywords: voting rights act, ecological inference, ecological regression, homogeneous precincts analysis, racial bloc voting
JEL Classification: K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation