Viral Voter Suppression

49 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2021

See all articles by Douglas M. Spencer

Douglas M. Spencer

University of Connecticut, School of Law

Lisa Grow Sun

Brigham Young University - J. Reuben Clark Law School

Brigham Daniels

Brigham Young University - J. Reuben Clark Law School

Chantel Sloan

Brigham Young University - Department of Public Health

Natalie Blades

Brigham Young University

Date Written: March 1, 2021

Abstract

While data about racial disparities in health has traditionally played only a very limited role in assessing how voting rules affect the voting rights of racial minorities, the COVID-19 voter experience has powerfully exposed how those disparities undermine minority voice and voting power not just during pandemics, but in every election. Empirical evidence generated by our novel COVID-19 Vulnerability Index demonstrates that politicians leveraged health disparities, rooted in the subordination of racial minorities, to suppress the vote of racial minorities in the 2020 general election and to further entrench racial inequity in voting.

This evidence arrives at a critical juncture for the Voting Rights Act, which has been stripped of much of its bite by the Supreme Court and is currently being debated by Congress. A new focus on the disparate health effects of voting rules, grounded in the kind of solid empirical evidence we provide, could reinvigorate the VRA—providing new avenues for assessing voting rights, for litigating and judging voter suppression claims under Section 2, and even informing a new coverage formula to resurrect Section 5. The clear and compelling story told by our data are a clarion call to legislators, courts, and litigators to reconceptualize and strengthen voting rights by accounting for the barriers that health disparities pose to minority access to the ballot.

Keywords: voter suppression, COVID-19, empirical analysis, race discrimination, voting rights act, public health

Suggested Citation

Spencer, Douglas M. and Sun, Lisa Grow and Daniels, Brigham and Sloan, Chantel and Blades, Natalie, Viral Voter Suppression (March 1, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3800362 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3800362

Douglas M. Spencer (Contact Author)

University of Connecticut, School of Law ( email )

65 Elizabeth Street
Hartford, CT 06105
United States

Lisa Grow Sun

Brigham Young University - J. Reuben Clark Law School ( email )

430 JRCB
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602
United States
801-422-7434 (Phone)
801-422-0390 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law2.byu.edu/faculty/profile.php?id=31

Brigham Daniels

Brigham Young University - J. Reuben Clark Law School ( email )

410 JRCB
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602
United States

Chantel Sloan

Brigham Young University - Department of Public Health

Public Health
2048 LSB
Provo, UT 84602
United States

Natalie Blades

Brigham Young University

Department of Statistics
WVB
Provo, UT 84602
United States

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