Ticketing and Turnout: The Participatory Consequences of Low-Level Police Contact

The American criminal legal system is an important site of political socialization: scholars have shown that criminal legal contact reduces turnout and that criminalization pushes people away from public institutions more broadly. Despite this burgeoning literature, few analyses directly investigate the causal effect of lower-level police contact on voter turnout. To do so, we leverage individual-level administrative ticketing data from Hillsborough County, Florida. We show that traffic stops materially decrease participation for Black and non-Black residents alike, and we also find temporal variation in the effect for Black voters. Although stops reduce turnout more for Black voters in the short term, they are less demobilizing over a longer time horizon. Although even low-level contacts with the police can reduce political participation across the board, our results point to a unique process of political socialization vis-à-vis the carceral state for Black Americans.

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License CC BY
DOI https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003055422001265
Type Journal Articles
C-ID POLS 110 - American