Did Disfranchisement Laws Help Elect President Bush?
New Evidence on the Turnout Rates and Candidate
Preferences of Florida’s Ex-Felons
Published online: 14 December 2010
Ó Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010
Abstract This paper re-examines the impact of Florida’s disfranchisement law on
the 2000 Presidential election. The analysis simulates outcomes in Florida under
scenarios consistent with the turnout rates of Georgia and North Carolina ex-felons
in 2000 and Florida ex-felons in 2008. Survey evidence on candidate preferences as
well as data on ex-felon party registration in Florida and North Carolina are used to
produce estimates of support for Bush and Gore among ex-felons. Based on the
simulations, the ex-felon population in Florida would have favored Bush in 2000.
Assuming that ex-felons supported Gore at rates similar to GSS respondents with at
most a high school diploma, Bush would have defeated Gore by 4,925 and 7,048
votes, assuming turnout of 10 and 15%, respectively.
Keywords Felony disfranchisement Á Criminal justice Á Voting behavior Á
2000 General election
In the state of Florida alone, an estimated 600,000 ex-felons were unable to
vote in the 2000 presidential election. Denying their voice may have literally
changed the history of this nation.
–Representative John Conyers, Jr. (Hull 2006)
‘‘As frank as I can be, we’re opposed to [restoring voting rights] because
felons don’t tend to vote Republican.’’
–Marty Connors, Chairman, Alabama Republican Party (Krajick 2004)
T. Burch (&)
Northwestern University, 750 N. Lake Shore Drive, 4th Floor, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
American Bar Foundation, 750 N. Lake Shore Drive, 4th Floor, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
Polit Behav (2012) 34:1–26