SOC 1010 UMCP Celebrity Drug Scandals and Media Double Standards Analysis


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Political disenfranchisement and felonies.pdf
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Critical Reading/Viewing Protocol
Adapted from “Making Thinking Visible” Ritchhart, Church and Morrison
Text/Documentary Title:
Text/Documentary Source:
CONNECTIONS: What connections do you draw between the text or video and your own life or your
other learning?
CHALLENGE: What ideas, positions or assumptions do you want to challenge or argue with in the
text or video?
CONCEPTS: Select at least TWO key sociological concepts that are applicable to the text or video
and explain how the concepts apply to the text or video.
SOCIAL JUSTICE – Alleviating a Social Problem: What changes in attitudes, thinking or action has to
take place within society in order to remedy the problem(s) that is central to the reading or video?
Critical Reading/Viewing Protocol
Adapted from “Making Thinking Visible” Ritchhart, Church and Morrison
Democratic Contraction?
Political Consequences of
Felon Disenfranchisement in
the United States
Christopher Uggen
University of Minnesota
Jeff Manza
Northwestern University
Universal suffrage is a cornerstone of democratic governance. As levels of criminal
punishment have risen in the United States, however, an ever-larger number of citizens have lost the right to vote. The authors ask whether felon disenfranchisement
constitutes a meaningful reversal of the extension of voting rights by considering its
political impact. Data from legal sources, election studies, and inmate surveys are
examined to consider two counterfactual conditions: (1) whether removing disenfranchisement restrictions alters the outcomes of past U.S. Senate and presidential elections, and (2) whether applying contemporary rates of disenfranchisement to prior
elections affects their outcomes. Because felons are drawn disproportionately from
the ranks of racial minorities and the poor, disenfranchisement laws tend to take more
votes from Democratic than from Republican candidates. Analysis shows that felon
disenfranchisement played a decisive role in U.S. Senate elections in recent years.
Moreover, at least one Republican presidential victory would have been reversed if
former felons had been allowed to vote, and at least one Democratic presidential
victory would have been jeopardized had contemporary rates of disenfranchisement
prevailed during that time.
he right to vote is a cornerstone
of democratic governance and a fundamental element of citizenship in democratic
societies—one that “makes all other political rights significant” (Piven and Cloward
2000:2). Although the timing and sequencing of the establishment of formal voting
rights has varied from country to country, it
has almost always been a slow, contested,
Direct all correspondence to Christopher
Uggen, Department of Sociology, University of
Minnesota, 267 19th Avenue South #909, Minneapolis, MN 55455 (uggen@atlas.socsci.umn.
edu). Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Washington, D.C., August 2000 and the American Society of Criminology in San Francisco, November 2000. This research was supported by grants from the National
Science Foundation (#9819015) and the Individual Project Fellowship Program of the Open
Society Institute. The Youth Development Study
and uneven process (Bowles and Gintis
1986:43–44, 56; Collier 1999; Rokkan 1970:
31–36; Rueschemeyer, Stephens, and
Stephens 1992; Therborn 1977). As Dahl
(1998) puts it, “In all democracies and republics throughout twenty-five centuries the
rights to engage fully in political life were
limited to a minority of adults” (p. 89). Political and economic elites often resisted the
extension of voting rights to subordinate
was supported by the National Institute of Child
Health and Human Development (HD44138) and
the National Institute of Mental Health
(MH42843). We thank Clem Brooks, Jack Goldstone, John Hagan, Paul Hirschfield, Alexander
Keyssar, Ryan King, Marc Mauer, John
McCarthy, John Markoff, Jeylan Mortimer,
Katherine Pettus, Joachim Savelsberg, and Sara
Wakefield for helpful suggestions or materials,
and Melissa Thompson, Angela Behrens, Janna
Cheney, Kendra Schiffman, Marcus Britton, and
Jinha Kim for research assistance.
American Sociological Review, 2002, Vol. 67 (December:777–803)
groups, including women, youth, the nonpropertied, workers, poor people, racial and
ethnic groups, and others (Keyssar 2000;
Markoff 1996:45–64; Wiebe 1995).
Yet over the course of the nineteenth and
twentieth centuries, restrictions on the franchise within countries claiming democratic
governance have gradually eroded, and universal suffrage has come to be taken for
granted as a key component of democracy in
both theory and practice (Dahl 1998:90).
One recent survey reports that by 1994, fully
96 percent of nation-states claimed to formally enfranchise adult men and women
citizens alike (Ramirez, Soysal, and
Shanahan 1997:735). 1 To proclaim democratic governance today means, at a minimum, universal suffrage for all citizens.
We consider a rare and potentially significant counter-example to the universalization
of the franchise in democratic societies: restrictions on the voting rights of felons and
ex-felons. Felon disenfranchisement constitutes a growing impediment to universal political participation in the United States because of the unusually severe state voting
restrictions imposed upon felons and the
rapid rise in criminal punishment since the
1970s. While a number of other countries
(including the United Kingdom, Russia, and
many of the post-Soviet republics) deny voting rights to prison inmates, the United
States is unique in restricting the rights of
nonincarcerated felons (who, as we show
below, make up approximately three-quarters of the disenfranchised population). In
many European countries, including Ireland,
Spain, Sweden, Denmark, and Greece, as
well as Australia and South Africa, inmates
retain the legal right to vote even while in
prison (Australian Electoral Commission
2001; Ewald 2002; Fellner and Mauer
1998).2 In a number of other countries, voting restrictions are contingent on the length
To be sure, many of these countries have incomplete or “façade” democracies without fully
competitive elections (Markoff 1996, chap. 5).
Even within the most democratic countries, barriers to participation inevitably persist (e.g., registration requirements, barriers faced by disabled
voters, difficulties accessing polling places, especially when elections are held on working
days). Every country excludes noncitizen immigrants from voting in national elections.
or type of sentence imposed (among these
countries are Austria, Belgium, Italy, and
Norway in Europe, and Canada, Australia,
and New Zealand elsewhere). Among
postindustrial democracies, the United
States is virtually the only nation to permanently disenfranchise ex-felons as a class in
many jurisdictions, and the only country to
limit the rights of individuals convicted of
offenses other than very rare treason or election-related crimes. Finland and New
Zealand disenfranchise some ex-felons for
specific election offenses, but only for a limited time (Fellner and Mauer 1998). Germany allows, by judicial discretion, the disenfranchisement of those convicted of election offenses and treason for a maximum of
five years beyond their sentence (Demleitner
2000). The United States stands alone in the
democratic world in imposing restrictions on
the voting rights of a very large group of
nonincarcerated felons.
As many recent analysts have documented
(Donziger 1996; Lynch 1995; Savelsberg
1994; Sutton 2000), the United States is also
exceptional for the rate at which it issues
felony convictions (and thus removes the
right to vote). For example, the incarceration
rate in the United States in 2000 was 686 per
100,000 population, compared with rates of
105 in Canada, 95 in Germany, and only 45
in Japan (Mauer 1997a; U.S. Department of
Justice [henceforward USDOJ] 2002;
Walmsley 2002), and similar disparities can
also be found for nonincarcerated felons.
Whether felon disenfranchisement in the
United States actually constitutes a threat to
democracy, however, is not a simple question. Modern democratic governance entails
a set of macro-political institutions that register citizens’ preferences through (among
other things) regular competitive elections
(Bollen 1979; Dahl 1998; Przeworski 1991,
chap. 1). For democratic governance to be
threatened, disenfranchisement must reach
levels sufficient to change election outcomes. Raw counts of the size of the disen2 We thank Joe Levinson at the Prison Reform
Trust, and Femke van der Meulen at the International Centre for Prison Studies, both in London,
for making the results of their international survey of felon voting rights in Europe available
to us.
franchised felon population are inconclusive: However much the loss of voting rights
matters for affected individuals, there may
be no effect on political outcomes and
hence, no substantive macro-level impact.
Group-level analyses face the same limitations. Some analysts have focused on the
disproportionate racial impact of felon disenfranchisement (Harvey 1994; Shapiro
1993) and on the widely reported statistical
estimate that approximately one in seven African American men are currently disenfranchised (Fellner and Mauer 1998). While unquestionably important for many reasons,
the disproportionate racial impact of felon
disenfranchisement cannot by itself address
the implications for American democracy as
a whole. Given these considerations, we develop an appropriate, macro-level test. We
suggest that determining whether felon disenfranchisement has had an impact on
American democracy requires examining the
extent to which it has directly altered actual
electoral outcomes.
Because felon voting rules are state-specific, the handful of earlier studies of the political consequences of felon disenfranchisement estimated the average impact of disenfranchisement on election turnout rates
across the states (Hirschfield 2001; Miles
2000). In the analyses developed here, by
contrast, we advance an alternative, counterfactual approach. We examine specific elections and test whether the inclusion of felon
voters at predicted rates of turnout and party
preference would have been sufficient to
change actual election outcomes. We use
data on voter turnout from the Current Population Survey’s Voter Supplement Module,
and data on voting intention from the National Election Study, to estimate the likely
voting behavior of the disenfranchised felon
population. We utilize information on felon
characteristics from censuses and surveys of
prison inmates to estimate the size and social distribution of the felon population.
Combining these data sources, we are able
to estimate the net votes lost by Democratic
candidates in closely contested U.S. Senate
and presidential elections, and to assess the
overall impact of felon disenfranchisement
on the American political landscape. Finally,
we use unique longitudinal data on criminal
background and political behavior to test the
reasonableness of the assumptions we make
in our voting analyses, drawing on newly
available data from the 2000 wave of the
Youth Development Study (Mortimer forthcoming).
We present our paper in five parts. First,
we develop the theoretical and historical
background of our topic, situating our empirical analyses in the literatures on democratic theory and American criminal justice.
Second, we describe the logic of our investigation. Third, we address data sources and
methodological issues, presenting our estimates of the size of the disenfranchised felon
population in each state. Fourth, we offer two
sets of results: estimates of the likely turnout
and vote choice of felons if they had the right
to vote, and confirmatory analyses from the
Youth Development Study. Last, we discuss
some of the implications of our results.
Models of Universal Suffrage and
American Democracy
The current state of democracy in America
is frequently characterized as troubled. Low
turnout rates (Piven and Cloward 2000;
Putnam 2000), high levels of public apathy
(Eliasoph 1998), poor information and citizen ignorance (Delli Carpini and Keeter
1996), declining trust in the political system
(Brooks and Cheng 2001; Nye, Zelikow, and
King 1997), a “crisis” of the party system
(Burnham 1982) characterized by rising independent partisanship, candidate-centered
politics, and voter dealignment (Wattenberg
1991, 1994) are among the symptoms most
frequently identified in the recent literature.
Yet, virtually no attention has been paid to
issues surrounding the right to vote.3
A lack of attention to voting rights reflects the predominant scholarly consensus
that suffrage has been a settled issue since
the passage and enforcement of the Voting
Rights Act of 1965. Observing the early ex3
A partial exception to this claim has resulted
from the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election and the controversies growing out of the
Florida vote (e.g., National Commission on Federal Election Reform 2001).
tension of the franchise to nonpropertied
white men in the United States in the 1830s,
Tocqueville ([1835] 1969) famously asserted, “When a nation begins to modify the
elective qualification one can be sure that
sooner or later it will abolish it altogether.
That is one of the most invariable rules of
social behavior” (p. 59). To be sure, democratic governance has been overturned in
many countries over the course of the past
150 years, in some cases more than once
(Markoff 1996).4 Such societal-wide democratic reversals have typically entailed the
elimination of democratic institutions and
free elections as part of larger shifts to authoritarian forms of governance. In such
cases, the right to vote in meaningful elections is either completely eliminated or rendered irrelevant; selective disenfranchisement of particular groups, however, is
rarely the source of the turn away from democracy. Democratic theory suggests that
suffrage rights are exceptionally sticky:
Once the vote is extended to a particular
segment of the population, it is rarely removed as long as the polity as a whole remains democratic.
The history of suffrage rights in the United
States has appeared to many observers to
have more or less followed a Tocquevillian
model, even if unevenly. Although the
struggle to extend the franchise to all continued for some 130 years after Tocqueville
wrote, the history of suffrage has been generally viewed as a steady march toward universalism (Flanigan and Zingale 2002:31–
34; Verba, Nie, and Kim 1978:5; Williamson
1960). As keen an observer of the limitations
of American democracy as Schattschneider
(1960) could assert that “one of the easiest
victories of the democratic cause in American history has been the extension of the suffrage. . . . The struggle for the ballot was almost bloodless, almost completely peaceful,
and astonishingly easy” (p. 100). The dominant assumption in the literature today is that
4 Among the most important of these antidemocratic waves were the rise of fascist governments in Europe between the two world wars and
the uneven development of democratic governance in Asia and Central and South America after World War II (for a global overview, see
Rueschemeyer et al. 1992).
“at least since the voting rights reforms of
the 1960s, political rights have been universalized in the United States. With relatively
insignificant exceptions, all adult citizens
have the full complement of political rights”
(Verba, Scholzman, and Brady 1995:11).
Recent critical historical accounts have
challenged unilinear models of democratic
extension, emphasizing the uneven development of suffrage over the course of American history (Keyssar 2000; Rogers 1992;
Shklar 1991; Wiebe 1995). This more recent
scholarship describes the halting, and at
times reversible, processes through which
universal suffrage finally came to be adopted
in the United States. Examinations of state
and local variation in the timing and extension of the franchise reveal this pattern most
clearly. The possibility that growing felon
disenfranchisement may constitute a challenge to the legitimacy of democratic elections, however, has not generally been considered (for one notable exception, see
Keyssar 2000:308).
The widespread consensus around the
view that universal suffrage has been attained seems to be driven by a simple but
plausible assumption: There is no reason to
think that disenfranchisement has any substantive impact on political outcomes, as it
affects only a small group of individuals;
hence, while it may be an interesting legal
or philosophical question, it does not by itself pose an empirical threat to democratic
governance. Yet there are reasons to believe
that felon disenfranchisement has not had a
neutral impact on the American political system.
Racial minorities (Kennedy 1997; Mauer
1999; Tonry 1995) and the poor (USDOJ
1993, 2000b; Wilson and Abrahamse 1992;
Wolfgang, Thornberry, and Figlio 1987) are
significantly overrepresented in the U.S.
criminal justice system. We estimate that 1.8
million of the 4.7 million felons and ex-felons currently barred from voting are African
Americans (see Appendix Tables A and B).
Because African Americans are overwhelmingly Democratic Party voters (Dawson
1994; Huckfeldt and Kohfeld 1989; Tate
1993), felon disenfranchisement erodes the
Democratic voting base by reducing the
number of eligible African Americans voters. Moreover, the white felon population is
principally composed of poor or workingclass offenders (USDOJ 1993, 2000b) who
are also likely to vote Democratic (although
not nearly to the same extent as African
Americans) (Form 1995; Hout, Brooks, and
Manza 1995). According to a nationally representative survey of state prison inmates,
less than one-third of all state prisoners had
completed high school, and fewer than half
reported an annual income of $10,000 in the
year prior to incarceration (USDOJ 1993:3,
2000b). In the southern states, where disenfranchisement laws tend to be most restrictive, education and income levels are even
lower (tables available on request from authors). For all of these reasons, then, the possibility at least exists that felon disenfranchisement affects the outcomes of democratic elections by taking net votes from the
Democratic Party.
Criminal Justice and Felon
The possibility that felon disenfranchisement could be influencing recent electoral
outcomes is largely tied to changes in the
criminal justice regime over the past three
decades. For a 50-year period, from the
1920s to the early 1970s, United States incarceration rates fluctuated within a narrow
band of approximately 110 prisoners per
100,000 people. The policy consensus accompanying this stability was undergirded
by a model of “penological modernism” in
which the rehabilitation of offenders was the
primary goal of incarceration (Rothman
1980). Structural elements of the criminal
justice system, including probation, parole,
and indeterminate sentencing, were designed
to reform offenders and reintegrate them into
their communities. The model began to
break down in the 1960s, however, as Republican presidential candidates Barry
Goldwater (in 1964), and Richard Nixon (in
1968), and other conservative and moderate
politicians (such as Nelson Rockefeller in
New York) successfully promoted more punitive criminal justice policies (Beckett
1997; Jacobs and Helms 1996; Savelsberg
1994). By the mid-1970s, a rising chorus of
conservative scholars, policy analysts, and
politicians were advocating punitive strategies of deterrence and incapacitation, dis-
missing the rehabilitative model as “an
anachronism” (Martinson 1974:50; Wilson
1975). These trends continued in the 1980s
and 1990s, with the Reagan, Bush, and
Clinton administrations aggressively focusing the nation’s attention on problems associated with drug use and the incarceration of
drug offenders (Beckett and Sasson 2000).
The success of the conservative crime
policy agenda over the past three decades
has had a remarkable impact, producing an
enormous increase in felony convictions and
incarceration, and a corresponding increase
in rates of felon disenfranchisement. Since
1970, the number of state and federal prisoners has grown by over 600 percent, from
fewer than 200,000 to almost 1.4 million
(USDOJ 1973:350, 2001a:1). Other correctional populations have also grown by rate
and number, with the number of felony probationers and parolees quadrupling from
1976 to 2000 (USDOJ 1979, 2001b). When
jail inmates are added to state and federal
prisoners, approximately 2 million Americans are currently incarcerated, with an additional 4.5 million supervised in the community on probation or parole (USDOJ
2000a), and some 9.5 million ex-offenders
in the general population (Uggen, Manza,
and Thompson 2000).
Not all of these felons and ex-felons are
disenfranchised, as ballot restrictions for felons are specific to each state. Restrictions
were first adopted by some states in the postRevolutionary era, and by the eve of the
Civil War some two dozen states had statutes barring felons from voting or had felon
disenfranchisement provisions in their state
constitutions (Behrens, Uggen, and Manza
2002; Keyssar 2000:62–63). In the post-Reconstruction South, such laws were extended
to encompass even minor offenses (Keyssar
2000:162), as part of a larger strategy to disenfranchise African Americans—a strategy
that also included devices such as literacy
tests, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses (see
Kousser 1974). In general, some type of restriction on felons’ voting rights gradually
came to be adopted by almost every state,
and at present 48 of the 50 states bar felons—in most cases including those on probation or parole—from voting. At least 10
of those states also bar ex-felons from voting, 2 other states permanently disenfran-
Felons as a Percentage of the U.S.
Voting-Age Population
1974 1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000
Figure 1. Felon Disenfranchisement as a Percentage of the U.S. Voting-Age Population, 1974 to 2000
Note: Estimates are based on life tables constructed from U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Census
Bureau publications (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1948–2000; USDOJ 1948–2001). All sources are described
on pages 785–86.
chise recidivists, and 1 state requires a postrelease waiting period.5
Overall, the combination of an increasing
number of convictions, state laws that prevent most felons from voting, and the steady
cumulative growth of the disenfranchised exfelon population in those states that permanently restrict their voting rights has produced a significant overall growth in the disenfranchised population. Our estimates suggest that the total disenfranchised population
has risen from less than 1 percent of the electorate in 1976 to 2.3 percent of the electorate
At present, Vermont and Maine are the only
states that allow incarcerated felons to vote. Referenda eliminated voting rights for Utah and
Massachusetts inmates in 1998 and 2000, respectively. Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee (for those convicted
prior to 1986), Virginia, Washington (for those
convicted prior to 1984), and Wyoming permanently disenfranchise felons unless reinstated by
a clemency procedure. Arizona and Maryland
permanently disenfranchise certain recidivists
(those with two or more felony convictions), and
Delaware requires a five-year waiting period.
New Mexico rescinded permanent ex-felon disenfranchisement in 2001, and Maryland narrowed its voting ban on ex-felons in 2002.
in 2000. Figure 1 shows the steady growth of
the percentage of the voting age population
disenfranchised over this period. The slight
dips in the mid-1970s and late-1990s reflect
certain states liberalizing their restrictions on
ex-felons (see Behrens et al. 2002; Manza
and Uggen forthcoming).
Our primary research question is whether
felon disenfranchisement has had meaningful political consequences in past elections.
In other words, would election outcomes
have differed if the disenfranchised had
been allowed to vote? To fully answer this
counterfactual question, we must determine
how many felons would have turned out to
vote, how they would have voted, and
whether those choices would have changed
the electoral outcomes. If so, a closely related consideration is whether disenfranchisement has affected public policy
through feedback processes tied to these
electoral outcomes. Figure 2 provides a
schematic representation of the questions we
pose. Our burden is to estimate who votes
(a), their vote choice (b), and the electoral
Policy feedback processes
Figure 2. Schematic Diagram of the Impact of Felon Disenfranchisement on American Electoral
Outcomes and Policy
outcomes (c). In the conclusion we suggest
some possible views regarding the feedback
process (d) as well.
These are difficult questions. A group the
size of the disenfranchised felon population
could have a considerable political impact,
but given its composition, neither its rate of
political participation nor its preferences are
likely to mirror those of the general population. In this case, and in observational research more generally, information is missing on an important counterfactual condition
(Holland 1986). If we could assume unit homogeneity—that felons would have voted in
the same numbers and with the same preferences as nonfelons—we could simply count
the disenfranchised felons and apply national turnout and party-preference averages.
But because felons differ from nonfelons in
ways that are likely to affect political behavior, this sort of blanket assumption is likely
Another way to measure political impact
is to estimate the average causal effect of a
treatment—in this case laws stripping
criminals of their voting rights. In a statelevel analysis of National Election Study
data, Miles (2000) reports that rates of voter
registration and turnout tend to be lower in
states with strict felon disenfranchisement
laws than in states lacking such laws, but
that the differences are not statistically significant (cf. Hirschfield 2001). Although
such studies provide evidence about the statistical significance of the average effect of
disenfranchisement—and suggest that this
average effect is likely to be small—it is
possible that even such small differences
may have great practical significance.
First, it may be reasonable to examine the
impact of disenfranchisement on particular
elections rather than the overall impact because political choices are less about average causal effects than about tipping points.
In some elections, particularly those in twoparty systems requiring a simple plurality
for victory (as in most U.S. elections), a
small number of votes are often decisive. In
this case, we also have a great deal more information at our disposal than the standard
statistical approach assumes, as we have access to population data rather than sample
data. We know the precise number of votes
cast for each candidate and the plurality or
margin of victory in every election. We also
know the exact number of prisoners, probationers, and parolees in each state who cannot vote, and we can reasonably estimate
the number of ex-felons in states that restrict their voting rights. The only real questions, then, are how many felons and ex-felons would have turned out to vote, and
which candidate they would have selected.
Assuming that nothing else about the candidates or elections would have changed, we
therefore undertake a historical accounting
of the counterfactual condition: What would
have happened had felons been allowed to
vote in U.S. Senate and presidential elections? We calculate the number of felons and
ex-felons affected, then estimate voter turnout and vote choice on the basis of their
known characteristics to determine the number of votes lost to Democratic candidates.
To assess the political consequences of disenfranchisement, we then compare the actual
margin of victory with counterfactual results
that take into account the likely political behavior of disenfranchised felons.
Turnout and Vote Choice
Our analyses of turnout and vote choice utilize standard election data sources. To derive
turnout estimates for the disenfranchised
population, we analyze data from the Voter
Supplement File of the Current Population
Survey (CPS). The CPS is a monthly survey
of individuals conducted by the U.S. Census
Bureau. Since 1964, in each November of
even-numbered (national election) years, the
survey includes questions about political participation. All sampled households are asked,
“In any election some people are not able to
vote because they are sick or busy or have
some other reason, and others do not want to
vote. Did [you/another household member]
vote in the election on November __?”
Questions of this type produce slightly inflated estimates of turnout in the CPS series,
with the inflation factor ranging from a low
of 7.5 percent (1968) to a high of 11.1 percent (1988) in presidential elections between
1964 and 1996 (U.S. Bureau of the Census
1998:2). Accordingly, after obtaining estimated turnout percentages for the felon
population, we reduce them by a CPS inflation factor, multiplying predicted turnout
rates by the ratio of actual to reported turnout for each election.6 Because turnout is
most overreported among better-educated
citizens (Bernstein, Chadha, and Montjoy
2001; Silver, Anderson, and Abramson
1986), inflation rates are likely lower among
disenfranchised felons than among nonfelons, so this procedure is likely to produce
conservative estimates for our study.
Our estimates of the expected vote choice
of disenfranchised felons are developed using National Election Study (NES) data for
1972 to 2000. We begin in 1972 because it is
the first presidential election year for which
we have reasonably proximate sociodemographic information about incarcerated
felons and because it immediately precedes
major increases in incarceration rates. The
NES is the premier source of U.S. voting
data. It includes a rich battery of sociodemographic and attitudinal items and the lengthy
The use of proxy respondents to report on the
voting behavior of others in the household is a
potentially greater threat to validity. However,
U.S. Census Bureau verification tests show that
proxy and self-reports were in agreement about
99 percent of the time in 1984 and 98 percent of
the time in 1992 (U.S. Bureau of the Census
1986:10, 1993). Also, the CPS has produced
much more reliable turnout estimates than the
National Election Study, which typically overestimates turnout by 18 to 25 percent.
time-series needed for this investigation. The
biggest drawback of the NES series is that
while it asks respondents how they voted in
presidential and congressional elections,
there are too few respondents (N
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