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PP 296 / LAW 832
Voting Rights Policy & The Law

Fall 2021, Tuesday-Thursday, 3:20pm - 5:20pm, Law 1420

Instructors:

Matt A. Barreto (bio) Chad W. Dunn (bio)
matt@uclavrp.org chad@uclavrp.org

Course Description:

This year-long course exposes students to voting rights act theory, case law, history, research and then implementation and is part of the UCLA Voting Rights Project (VRP). For a second year (2021-22) we are offering the course concurrently with LAW 832, and both Law and Public Policy students will meet together, in-person, on Thursdays in Law 1420. On Tuesdays, we will meet via Zoom and those sessions will sometimes be focused on legal casework and only Law students will meet, and other times we will use the Tuesday meeting for more in-depth technical and hands-on training, especially of mapping software for ALL STUDENTS. A collaborative course taught from the perspective of social science research, and civil rights and voting rights, the course is taught by Professor Matt Barreto and nationally preeminent civil and voting rights attorney Mr. Chad Dunn. In addition, different faculty from across campus, and experts from across the country will participate as "guest experts" to provide their perspective on how to study, research and document various aspects related to voting rights.

The course will not only cover the theoretical factors involved in a voting rights lawsuit, such as the history of discrimination against a minority group in the areas of employment, education, housing, and political representation, but will also give students the chance to participate in a potential VRA lawsuit. Students would learn, and eventually implement themselves, an in-depth study of the methodology and statistical approach to document the presence or absence vote dilution or vote denial in different jurisdictions in California, or across the country. Finally, by the Spring quarter, students will help file a lawsuit against a jurisdiction that is out of compliance with the California or Federal voting rights act and the research they did in this course will potentially be used as evidence in the challenge.

Tentative Description of year-long course (Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022)

The course would proceed as follows:

Fall quarter: students are divided into teams to research various jurisdictions across the country that may or may not be vulnerable to a voting rights challenge. Students would research the history of discrimination, how minority candidates have fared when running for office, and the current political and social climate in the jurisdiction. At the conclusion of the Fall quarter each student would give a presentation as to why, or why not the jurisdiction they are studying should be considered for a lawsuit.

Over the winter break, Barreto and Dunn will review all evidence and select two to three jurisdictions in which to potentially file a voting rights lawsuit.

Winter quarter: students would learn in more detail the legal theory relevant to bringing a successful voting rights challenge, as well as how to assemble and present the social science evidence.  Students would be divided into teams to work on different aspects of a potential lawsuit on the jurisdictions selected by Barreto and Dunn over the break. Instruction would focus on the practical aspects of a voting rights lawsuit, and students would read case law on prior VRA decisions as well as read and review the accompanying expert reports that were filed.

Spring quarter: As the research and preparation for the lawsuit(s) proceed, students would work on all aspects of the voting rights cases with Barreto and Dunn, including preparation of expert research reports, legal argumentation and filings, preparation of expert depositions and other matters related to the case.  In addition to working directly on the lawsuit, the workshop would continue with lectures and practicum on voting rights in general with presentations from outside experts including other faculty on campus, as well as experts in the field from off-campus in the Los Angeles area.

Note on Law students: The UCLA Law School operates on a 2-semester schedule, not a 3-quarter schedule. As such, Law students start about 4 weeks earlier in the Fall, and end about 5 weeks earlier in the Spring. To accomodate this, some sessions are ONLY for Law students, and the Spring semester is more of a workshop/clinic.

Course Materials & Readings

  • Grofman, Bernard, Lisa Handley and Richard Niemi. 1994. Minority Representation and the Quest for Voting Equality. Cambridge University Press.
  • Henderson, Ana (ed.) 2007. Voting Rights Act Reauthorization of 2006: Perspectives on Democracy, Participation, and Power. Berkeley Public Policy Press.
  • Chandler Davidson. 1992. Controversies in Minority Voting. The Brookings Institution Press.

Week 0

Week 1

More on Gingles in a local section 2 case:

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

  • October 28, 2021
  • Midterm Check-in: Lay out the facts of the jurisdictions you are researching and potential for any VRA violations (2 minutes only! be concise!)
  • We will provide feedback and ideas, help you focus and narrow your inquiry
  • How-to: Downloading election result data by precinct
  • Example from LA County: www.lavote.net Election Results
  • Look for: Statement of Votes Cast
  • Example Excel sheet Basic regression in Excel
    • Pro Tip: Make sure the Data Analysis ToolPak is loaded in MS Excel (instructions here)
  • Link to Ford County, Kansas: Election Results
  • VAP data by precinct (at data.census.gov): Race Hispanic 18 -- YOU MUST TYPE IN: RACE HISPANIC 18
  • Click on Filter -> Click on Geography ->
    • Scroll down to 'Voting District' -> Choose State -> Choose County ->
    • Select first box at top: ALL PRECINCTS

Week 6

More Readings:

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

Zoom Presentations

FINALS WEEK, 2021

WINTER QUARTER 2022

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4 - Work with your teams on project

  • Updates from the research teams
  • Next steps on researching your jurisdiction

Week 5

  • Arlington Heights and Intent
  • Week 5 lecture slides

Week 6

  • Updates from the research teams
  • Any particular road blocks in your case
  • Specific items you need for your complaint
  • Week 6 Lecture Slides

Week 7

  • Introduction to ESRI map drawing
  • Districting standards
  • Guest lecture: Mr. Tye Rush, Senior Fellow, UCLA VRP
  • Week 7 Lecture Slides

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

  • Final ESRI map session, exporting your maps and metrics
  • Guest lecture: Mr. Tye Rush, Senior Fellow, UCLA VRP
  • (in class demonstration)

Additional readings