Valuing the Vote: The Redistribution of Voting Rights and State Funds Following the Voting Rights Act of 1965
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.
An NBER digest for this paper is available.
You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.
This paper was revised on August 6, 2012