The Voting Rights Act, District Elections, and the Success of Black Candidates in Municipal Elections
Over the last 20 years blacks and other minority groups have used the Voting Rights Act to challenge the legality of at-large election systems and promote the election of representatives by district. In this article we compare electoral outcomes over time in order to determine the effects of district elections on the success of black city council candidates in municipal elections. Consistent with previous cross-sectional analyses, we find that district elections aided black candidates in the early 1980s. However, our results also show that blacks have achieved substantially greater success in at-large elections over the last 10 years, thereby reducing the difference in representation among cities with different election systems. Our results are robust when interracial demographic differences and possible selection biases are taken into account. We conclude that the diminished efficacy of district elections is likely due to a reduction in the racial polarization of voters. Copyright 1995 by the University of Chicago.
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