Vol. 123 No. 6 The election of an African American as President of the United States has raised questions regarding the continued relevance and even constitutionality of various provisions of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Barack Obama’s apparent success among white voters in 2008 has caused some commentators to question the background conditions of racially polarized voting that are key to litigation under section 2 of the VRA. His success in certain states, such as Virginia, has also raised doubts about the formula for coverage of jurisdictions under section 5 of the VRA. This Article examines the data from the 2008 primary and general elections to assess the geographic patterns of racial differences in voting behavior.
Vol. 121 No. 7 In the current debate over the constitutionality of voter identification laws, both the Supreme Court and defenders of such laws have justified them, in part, as counteracting a widespread fear of vote fraud that leads citizens to disengage from the democracy. Because actual evidence of voter impersonation fraud is rare and difficult to come by if fraud is successful, reliance on public opinion as to the prevalence of fraud threatens to allow courts to evade the difficult task of balancing the actual constitutional risks involved. In this Essay we employ a unique survey to evaluate the causes and effects of public opinion regarding vote fraud. We find that perceptions of fraud have no relationship to an individual’s likelihood of turning out to vote. We also find that voters who were subject to stricter identification requirements believe fraud is just as widespread as do voters subject to less restrictive identification requirements.