Seth Masket used data from the International City/County Management Association to evaluate the relationship between people of color in a city's population and the percentage each racial group has on the city council. He discovered an unsurprising disparity between African American population and representation on the councils. For instance:
What the evidence suggested was that Ferguson, Mo., was a serious outlier. As of 2001, just over 50% of its population was African American while none of its city council was. Today, 67% of the population is African American, while 17% (1 member) of the city council is. This is one of the largest representational gaps for African Americans in any U.S. city.But overall he found that cities with a majority of African Americans in the population tend to have a majority on the city council. To be exact, each extra percent of the population that is black adds about 0.8 extra percent to the city council. But that doesn't hold true for other people of color.
Each additional percent of Latinos in the population only makes for an additional 0.5 percent on the city council. Each additional percent of Asian Americans add only 0.4 percent.
Why the difference? According to two researchers, it is, at least in part, because of lower voter turnout among Latinos and Asian Americans. Whites and blacks now vote in about equal percentages. Another reason is the black population has been fairly stable for a long time as has African American participation in politics. While the Latino and Asian American populations are rapidly growing, they haven't yet been as active politically and where they have, "entrenched incumbents and strong local political machines" have meant that the councils aren't yet reflecting these expanding groups.
• Judge rules for Latinos in Yakima: Members of the Yakima City Council in Washington are elected in an at-large voting system. Although Latinos make up one-third of the city's voting-age population, not a single Latino has been elected to the council in the current system's 37-year history. In his 65-page ruling citing a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, federal District Judge Thomas Rice gave a summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs who argued that the way the at-large system works, Latinos are excluded from full participation.
• Voting not allowed for some in Ferguson, Missouri: If you've been convicted of a felony, Missouri won't let you vote until you finish your parole or probation. This disenfranchisement affects 7 percent of the state's black population because African Americans are more likely to be arrested, convicted and sentence to prison time than are whites:
But if anything, this underestimates the force of denying a portion of the community their voting rights in a place like Ferguson. Evidence suggests that the effects of disenfranchisement bleed into the surrounding population. One study found that African Americans in communities with harsh felon disenfranchisement laws who themselves had not been incarcerated still experienced decreased turnout levels. This makes sense: voting is in many ways a communal activity, and when a neighbor or family member cannot participate, it shakes our fundamental faith that the government truly represents us.• State judge gives thumbs up to Florida's redistricted congressional map for 2016: But while the new map will be used for the election two years hence, State Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis ruled, “The 2014 elections will have to be held under the map as enacted in 2012.” He agreed with lawmakers who said that changing districts now would cause chaos at the polls. One of the plaintiffs in the case, the League of Woman Voters, said an appeal is likely.
In Ferguson, the disparities of participation in recent elections show that this faith has been shaken. Just 6 percent of eligible black voters cast a ballot in the 2013 municipal elections, compared to 17 percent of white voters