Election Turn-Out: Vote-Crazy Coral Gables, Motivated Miami Beach, Hopeless Homestead
Ever since Election Day, the New Times office has descended into tribal taunts as each employee has tried to claim that his or her 'hood was the nail in Mitt Romney's coffin or the only thing keeping Democrats from ransacking the House of Representatives.
To settle the issue, we've prepared a list of the voting precincts with the best and worst turnouts last Tuesday. The scorecard: Coral Gables went voter cray-cray; Miami Beach was hella-motivated; but parts of Homestead were hopeless.
There's a very disturbing bigger picture here, however: the precincts with the best turnout tend to be wealthy and white, while those with the worst turnout are poor and black. No es bueno para la democracia, señores.
Although there are many reasons why voters flock to some precincts more than others, the disparities in turnout according to race and income are worrying.
Last Friday, the Supreme Court said it would re-examine the Voting Rights Act of 1965 -- a law that bars parts of the country (including South Florida) from passing voting legislation without pre-clearance by the Department of Justice.
The law was designed to prevent Southern legislators from passing laws that intimidate or reduce turnout among minorities. Earlier this year, the DOJ cited the law in challenging Gov. Rick Scott's voting restrictions.
Here's a list of the Miami-Dade precincts with the highest and lowest turnouts, as well as their racial breakdown (due to old Census info, Hispanics are considered whites here) and per capita yearly income as of 1999.
Precincts With The Highest Turnout:
86.59% Pinecrest Library, 5835 SW 111th St. (Precinct 618): 91.7% white, $47,830
83.81% Coral Gables Sr. High, 450 Bird Rd. (611): 90.5% white, $41,276
83.76% Miami Beach Fire Station #5, 5303 Collins Ave. (20): 85.4% white, $17,421
83.69% Coco Plum Women's Club, 1375 Sunset Dr. (615): 82.6% white, $39,914
83.01% Christ the King Lutheran Church in the Gables (626): 91.7% white, $47,830
Precincts With The Lowest Turnout:
45.53% Homestead Family YMCA, 1034 NE 8th St. (916): 23.5% black, $11,744
45.97% St. Martin De Porres Church in Homestead (911): 20.2% black, $11,433
50.23% Mt. Zion Apostolic Church in West Little River (246): 68.6% black, $10,070
50.85% Florida City Town Hall, 404 W. Palm Dr. (923): 40.5% black, $8,743
51.81% Opa Locka Sr. Citizens Building, 14295 NW 21st Ct. (280): 79% black, $10,014
Credit to the Eye on Miami blog for first posting this data. As that blog pointed out, many of the precincts with the worst voter turnout are in unincorporated Miami-Dade.
But it's hard not to conclude that race and income aren't also heavy factors in who votes here in South Florida.
Perhaps poorer Miamians couldn't afford to take an entire day off of work to wait at the polls.
Or perhaps Miami's African-Americans -- who are statistically less likely to have a driver's license than whites -- were kept from voting by Florida's strict voter ID laws.
And we could write a freakin' term paper on how this state's selectively enforced, draconian drug laws disenfranchise blacks and Latinos.
Either way, election officials would be wise to figure out what's going on with voter turnout before passing any more onerous voting laws. Let's hope the Supreme Court still agrees.