The following is a guest post by Ruth Greenwood, the director of the Election Law Clinic at Harvard Law School:
The Election Law Clinic at Harvard Law School (“ELC”) now offers free access to summary measures of racially polarized voting (“RPV”) for every county in the country. The analysis was conducted by Christopher T. Kenny, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Government at Harvard University. All the results are available to view and download.
This project is the latest step in my efforts to promote more and better representation for communities of color in local government. A key policy in this area has been the enactment of state VRAs (SVRAs) across the country. California was first out of the pack in 2002, and in recent years Washington, Oregon, Virginia, and New York have all built on the CVRA in developing their own statutes (with ever more expansive and creative ways for local governments to enfranchise and represent communities of color). As the 2023 legislative sessions begin, I hope and expect to see even more states adopt SVRAs.
I hope RPV Near Me will be a resource for voters, community groups, activists, lawyers, and journalists in states with SVRAs to identify jurisdictions where the electoral system could be improved. I also hope RPV Near Me will be a resource in states considering adopting an SVRA—it should help with the identification of communities that might be better represented through new electoral systems.
The site includes visualizations of the RPV results for a number of recent elections in every county in the U.S. This information can give us a sense of the voting patterns of members of different racial and ethnic communities around the country. The site is not intended to be used in litigation (as