Are We There Yet? The Voting Rights Act and Black Representation on City Councils, 1981ﾖ2006
Shah, Paru R.
Marschall, Melissa J.
Ruhil, Anirudh V. S.
Sound evidence demonstrating what, if any, role the Voting Rights Act (VRA) has played in the impressive gains minorities have made in local office holding over the last 45 years remains in short supply. The present study is motivated by three crucial questions. First, where are gains in minority office holding most apparent, and how are these gains related to the VRA? Second, while studies have noted gains in black representation over time, the question of how the VRA in particular has contributed to these gains remains unclear. Finally, given claims made by opponents of the 2006 legislation reauthorizing the VRA that it was no longer needed, the question of when the VRA has been most efficacious, and if it continues to be relevant, is also salient. Our findings suggest that the VRA has been and continues to be an important tool in ensuring black descriptive representation, particularly in places with a legacy of racial intimidation and discrimination.