Valuing the Vote: The Redistribution of Voting Rights and State Funds Following the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Elizabeth U. Cascio, Ebonya L. Washington

NBER Working Paper No. 17776
Issued in January 2012, Revised in August 2012
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy, Economics of Education, Political Economy

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) has been called one of the most effective pieces of civil rights legislation in U.S. history, having generated dramatic increases in black voter registration across the South. We show that the expansion of black voting rights in some southern states brought about by one requirement of the VRA - the elimination of literacy tests at voter registration - was accompanied by a shift in the distribution of state aid toward localities with higher proportions of black residents, a finding that is consistent with models of distributive politics. Our estimates imply an elasticity of state transfers to counties with respect to turnout in presidential elections - the closest available measure of enfranchisement - of roughly one.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17776

Published: “Valuing the Vote: The Redistribution of Voting Rights and State Funds Following the Voting Rights Act of 1965” (with Ebonya Washington), The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 129(1), 379-433, February 2014. citation courtesy of

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