Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name



Political Science

First Advisor

Michael Goldfield


A rich body of research presents conflicting accounts describing how contemporary voter suppression laws impact political participation. This study process traces the political development of North Carolina and Florida from 1988 to 2012 to assess four competing explanations of this process. This study compares three measures of participation that strongly support the discouraging voter hypothesis, which finds that voter suppression laws depress black participation.

This study finds that state officials in Florida adopted a much stricter voter suppression regime than those in North Carolina for the period under study. As a result, the two states developed differing levels of democratization. In North Carolina, longstanding racial disparities in participation were mitigated by 2012. However, during this same period, black participation in Florida was suppressed. Despite high levels of African American mobilization for recent elections, this study finds that voter suppression negatively impacted participation.