Friday, September 30, 2016

An Intriguing Link Between Police Shootings and Black Voter Registration

wired |  What we found was staggering. The number one determinant of over-representation in fatal police shootings—after controlling for all other aforementioned indicators—was the percentage of eligible black Americans registered to vote within the state in question. In other words, the higher the percentage of eligible black Americans registered to vote, the lower the over-representation ratio in a given state. Furthermore, states suffering from increased rates of income inequality (i.e. Gini index, median household income) demonstrated higher over-representation ratios, while states with increased diversity (i.e. percentage of noncitizen residents) demonstrated lower over-representation ratios.

What does this all mean? In addition to promoting diversity and reducing income inequality, these preliminary results suggest that increasing voter registration among black Americans could potentially reduce the risk of fatal police shootings of black victims.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Minority groups are routinely excluded from voter registration drives due to higher rates of unlisted individuals. Furthermore, most states require voters to register several weeks before Election Day—a practice that disproportionately suppresses minority registrants. (Voter registration remains open in most states ahead of Election Day 2016; check whether you’re registered to vote here.)

Despite controlling for several socioeconomic variables, these results don’t conclusively imply causation. But they’re a reasonable starting point. Expanding on that knowledge and finding other potentially actionable mitigation strategies will require reframing the issue as a public health crisis, with a focus on data-driven research and policy recommendations.  Fist tap Dale.