Monday, April 11, 2011

Board Talks to Voting Rights Consultant Lisa Handley Calling from Afghanistan

This morning the board finally got to talk to the Voting Rights Act consultant, Lisa Handley, whose proposal they selected to analyze their plan before sending it for pre-clearance from the Department of Justice.  Handley is currently in Afghanistan.  I put some of the audio onto a video tape so you can get a sense of this consultant.  She literally wrote the book, or at least one book, on Voting Rights, which was published in 1992, and she was the 2001 Board's consultant as well.

For those with a technical bent, here are some notes on what Dr. Handley told  the NCSL National Redistricting Seminar on Measuring Minority Vote Dilution.

The audio covers some technical file information, the how to count Native who identify was multiracial where staff attorney White is able to get the consultant up to speed.  I edited the audio where board staff was hard to hear and to shorten it a bit. 

Here are my notes from the rest of the conversation.

[USUAL WARNING:  This was typed on the fly at the meeting and I'm putting it up with only rudimentary proof reading.  It doesn't capture everything and could be inaccurate.  The Board should have the audio up on their website soon.]

Redistricting  Board - April 11, 2011

Talking via phone to Consultant Lisa Handley who called from Afghanistan. 

Discussion fairly technical about the kind of data she needs to do her analysis. 

I came in a bit late and then recorded about 8 minutes.  Then I edited out some of it because the audio quality was terrible (worse than some parts I left - sorry, this is documentation, not art.)  Then I just started typing with the recording going as well.

Handley:  If one is white and one minority - count as a minority
If more than two, wonder what we do then.  DoJ may have given us some guidelines in recent weeks.  A lot of people will be captured by this.

Mike White:  in February 9th - will do their retrogression analysis
1.  Native and Native + white
2.  Native and Native + all

Required because of footnote in - Georgia v. Ashcroft  - SC said if you only have one race at issue, you should do what people self identify. 

OK, that answers that question. 

Something slightly different - I’m talking a data base for analysis of racial block voting analysis. 

In Chicago, much more complicated because different minority groups.  But here it’s much less complicated. 

Mike White:  35% number.  Board would like to know how you arrived at 35%

C:  I don’t know it will be 35% this time.  I think you are asking, what % of Natives needed to elect a Native.  Differential in minoirty and white turnout, how much white crossover vote can we expect for Native candidate.
Ten years ago, we found enough white cross-over, a 35% district might cut it.  aaysls has to be redone.  Might not be 35% this time round. 

White:  Could be higher or lower.

C:  That’s right. 

Actually, this turnaround, not only magic 35%, but since you’ve had minority candidates running statewide, so we can look at that data as well. 

Eric:  You want a column of total # of Cauc and column for Native - this would be anyone who checks the Native box on Census.

Handley:  Yes.  Some who marked just Native, but also Native and white, Hispanic, black. 

Eric:  Someone who marked all six races?

Handley:  That’s my understanding. 

Torgerson:  relating to 35% how might voting age population affect that?

Handley:  35% offers Native an opportunity to elect a candidate of choice.  Relates to turnout rates of whites and minorities, cohesion of Natives, how much white support for Natives?  35%

White:  Last time based on total population and not 35% voting age population.

Handley:  REALLY??!!!  If it says total rather than voting, that’s what it is.

White:  Assuming that you considered voting age in determining 35%.  S

Handley:  Since we focused on total population, the voting age is in there.  Did I do that for both?

Torg:  Can I talk to you about timeline?  We’ll be drawing final plan sometime in the second week of May.  When do you think we’ll have your analysis.  Not trying to nail you down, but get a general idea.

Handley:  Given your tight time line.  Probably not sufficient for section V submission, but for drawing purposes, why don’t I analysis just those districts that involve native candidates.
Then the 3 statewide Native candidates.
Then maybe 15 races. 

Somthing like that would take a couple of weeks to analysis.  Given that the data base is ready when I get back, I can start immediately.

Torg:  That would fit in our timeline.

Handley:  Another measure - the disaggregted results of minoirity candidates ????

White:  Lisa can provide us with a working number, but that wouldn’t be the pre-clearance analysis.

Handley:  But then I would do more races.  But first shot would be all races including minority candidates. 

Torg:  I realize you’ll have to do final analysis

Handley:  Do you have election results in the data base you’re using to draw the districts.

Eric:  NO
Handley:  It might be useful to show ??? that are minority preferred to include in your data base.  I’ll begin my analysis with those districts.

McConnochie:  We’re using 35% to make a minority district.  I realize we need to also look at voting age.  Possible to give us a number of voting age for us?

Handley:  Not necessarily the number we’ll use this time.  That’s only part of it.  The DOJ is going to do another analsysis.  If you have a district that are sitting at 50% that are vastly underpopulated.  You’ll say, I couldn’t draw this at 50%  I drew it at 35%.  If you CAN draw it above 35% but only do 35% you could be in trouble.

McConnochie:  The other way.  Areas that lost a lot of population and trying to get it to and above 35%.

Handley:  Looking at districts as currently composed. And you have some minority that is really underpopulated right?

White:  We have one that was minority-majority but is now 2% underpopulated and trying to move it around

Handley:  You can do that DOJ doesn’t insist these are the same districts, but the same number of districts. 

White:  We have some that are minority-majority and they will remain majority, but reduced because of out migration.

Handley:  DOJ will look at the data, if they see the numbers went down.  If they see you just couldn’t do it, they’ll be fine. 

Torg:  When are you going to be back from Afghanistan?

Handley:  April 24 - Easter Sunday. 

Torg:  Well have you up, sometime in Mid-May. 

Handley:  who is compliling the data base - Eric - email me on my aol account, better luck that g-mail account here. 
Hang up.

McConnochie - very important that we buy the map, so when they redraw important not to redraw - it will be helpful to them to understand our minority districts.  They could come up with other districts but destroy what we’ve tried to do.

White:  Some of the other ones - not 40 - part of the justification to DOJ.

Torgerson:  Memo from City Manager of Cordova.  The board may have adopted Valdez plan that includes Cordova, based on my comments that we were ok with going with Valdez, well, we aren’t. 
So, if any member of the board wishes to bring this issue back up, then a motion would be in order to revise this. 

Brody:  I would lean toward leaving it the way it is until we can visit Cordova until we can tell them what our options were.  See if they prefer other options.  Message is vague.

Torg:  I didn’t wnat any accusations that the board adopted this based on interpretation of what I said in error.    OK, that will stand as adopted.
We’’ll recess then technically to call of chair, but probably at 2.

Brody:  Could we do this at 2pm? 

Torg:  Not sure we’ll be ready.   When would you be ready McConnochie?  You aren’t going to have lunch then?

McConnochie:  Apparently not. 

Torg:  We’ll recess until 2pm

Here's the first page of the Table of Contents of the book Handley coauthored on Voting Equality.  You can read some of it online here.

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