Jean Lacroix recently published his paper entitled “Ballots instead of bullets? The effect of the Voting Rights Act on Political Violence“, in the Journal of the European Economic Association, 21(2), 764-813.
Abstract: The extension of voting rights epitomizes the construction of modern democracies. This paper empirically investigates the effect of such an enfranchisement on political violence in the context of the US Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965, which forbade discrimination in voting. The formula the VRA used to determine the counties it applied to generated both geographic and temporal local discontinuities in enfranchisement. This paper’s empirical strategy takes advantage of these features by comparing the evolution of political violence in geographically close-covered and non-covered counties. Difference-in-differences estimates indicate that VRA coverage halved the incidence and the onset of political violence. Additional empirical evidence implies that voting became the new institutionalized way to state political preferences. Indeed, VRA coverage mostly decreased electoral and small-scale strategic violence. This result is not explained by disaggrievement. Extensions suggest that new strategies of political action may explain a decrease in violence after enfranchisement.