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Racially Polarized Voting Case Tool

Racially Polarized Voting (RPV) analysis is important for assessing compliance with the Voting Rights Act and is a central question in vote dilution cases.

The Voting Rights Initiative at the University of Michigan Law School has created a searchable database of Section 2 cases under the Voting Rights Act since 1982.

On this page are a number of resources related to understanding and performing RPV analysis:

  • an interactive table of all the federal Voting Rights Act lawsuits that include discussion of RPV analysis from 2010-2021 (content analyzed across a number of criteria)
  • an article explaining what RPV analysis is
  • a breakdown of important case law from each Circuit Court that guides how RPV analysis should occur in that jurisdiction

Special thanks to Doug Spencer for reviewing this tool, for more legal redistricting resources visit All About Redistricting

Racially Polarized Voting Case Analysis

Use this table to sort RPV cases by year, level, geography, circuit number; as well as the different criteria used to analyze these cases.

This table was last updated on . If you see any information that is out of date, please email us.


An initial set of cases was pulled from a University of Chicago Law Review article by Elmendorf et al1. The authors shared their dataset of all VRA Section 2 cases from 1982 – 2015, which were sourced from Westlaw and an earlier University of Michigan Law Review article by Katz et al2. This dataset was supplemented with all VRA Section 2 cases between 2015 and the present, which were sourced from Westlaw.

1Elmendorf, Christopher S.; Quinn, Kevin M.; and Abrajano, Marisa J. (2016) “Racially Polarized Voting,” University of Chicago Law Review: Vol. 83 : Iss. 2 , Article 2.

2Katz, et al, 39 U Mich J L Ref 643 (cited in note 137). For Katz‘s data, see Ellen Katz and The Vot- ing Rights Initiative, VRI Database Master List (Section 2 Litigation: 1982-2005) (2006), archived at


The code book of criteria used in the table and a description of what they are recording

Criteria Description
Case Name Official name of the case
Case link Link to access the opinion
Case year Year the opinion was given
Background Brief outline of the case: what was being challenged, who challenged, why
Geo/Circuit Location of court or what circuit
Homogenous Precincts Were homogenous precincts used to demonstrate RPV?
ER Was Ecological Regression used to demonstrate RPV?
EI Was Ecological Inference used to demonstrate RPV?
G2 Found Is the second gingles criteria found? Do minorities vote as a bloc?
G2 Theory Does the Court offer any theory on Gingles 2? Do they give a threshold value that should be crossed to determine that minorities vote as a bloc?
G3 Found Is the third gingles criteria found? Do white voters vote as a bloc such that they consistently defeat the minority group’s candidate of choice?
G3 Theory Does the Court offer any theory on Gingles 3? Do they give a threshold value that should be crossed to determine that whites vote as a bloc? Does the Court say how different minority and white preferences must be? As in, does the Court specify a value for voting divergence, such as 60% (this would be that 80% of minorities voted for Candidate A while only 20% of whites did)?
Temporal Does the Court say anything specific about recent elections being more relevant than older ones? Does the Court specifically say how far back you can go?
Election Range The range of election years used to demonstrate RPV
Scale Are both endogenous and exogenous elections used? Does the Court say anything about the relative value of these election types?
Endogenous # Number of endogenous elections used to demonstrate RPV
Endo RPV Did the Court consider analysis of the endogenous elections probative of RPV?
Exogenous # Number of exogenous elections used
Exo RPV Did the Court consider analysis of the exogenous elections probative of RPV?
Only Minority Did the Court only consider elections that involved a minority candidate against a white candidate? Did the Court discuss this at all, and if so, what was said?
Non-Statistical Does the court allow non-statistical to impact the decision of whether G2 and G3 are found?
N-S type Type of non-statistical evidence reviewed by the Court
PPV Theory Partisan Polarized Voting. Does this idea emerge in the opinion? Does the Court say that an RPV claim can be rebutted by demonstrating PPV? Any other specifics mentioned by the Court?
PPV Found Was partisan polarized voting found?
PPV trump Did the evidence of PPV trump the RPV evidence, such that no RPV was found?
Plaintiff witness Who conducted the RPV analysis for plaintiffs?
Defendant Witness Who conducted the RPV analysis for defendants?
Census/Other Data Did the Judge discuss the quality of the data being used, or how the experts on either side sourced the data?

Racially Polarized Voting Analysis

Racially Polarized Voting (RPV) analyses are done to determine compliance with the Voting Rights Act (VRA).

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Circuit Court Specifics

Circuit Courts have produced unique case law on how to interpret and apply the Gingles criteria. We highlight some of these rulings and how they shape application of the Gingles criteria in their respective jurisdictions.

First Circuit

Uno v. City of Holyoke, 72 F.3d 973, 983 (1st Cir. 1995)
Causation is relevant to the totality of circumstances inquiry and irrelevant when considering the Gingles preconditions.
Huot v. City of Lowell, 280 F.Supp.3d 228 (2017)
Minority coalition claims are cognizable under Section 2 of the VRA

Second Circuit

Clerveaux v. East Ramapo Central School District, 984 F.3d 213 (2nd Cir. 2020)
Plaintiffs do not need to show racial causation to satisfy Gingles III. While causation may be assessed under the Senate factors, the only facts that must be proven without exception for a Section 2 claim are the Gingles preconditions, where racial causation is not relevant.
Goosby v. Town Board of Hempstead, New York, 180 F.3d 476 (2d Cir. 1999)
In Senate Factor 4 — if there is a candidate slating process, whether the members of the minority group have been denied access to that process — the focus is whether minority preferred, not just minority, candidates have been slated. The Second Circuit discounted election results when minority, but not minority preferred, candidates prevailed.
Bridgeport Coalition v. City of Bridgeport, 26 F.3d 271 (2d Cir. 1994)
Finding that multiple minority groups can be a single section 2 minority group if they are politically cohesive.

Fourth Circuit

Daly v. Hunt, 93 F.3d 1212, 1220 (4th Cir. 1996)
District plans with population deviations below 10% are not beyond challenge, but plaintiffs have a greater burden of proof to show a violation of their voting rights.
Lewis v. Alamance County, 99 F.3d 600 (4th Cir. 1996)
In the Gingles III criteria stating that the majority must “usually defeat” the minority’s candidate of choice, “usually defeat” is not satisfied “if plaintiffs merely show that white bloc voting defeats the minority-preferred candidate more often than not.”
N.A.A.C.P., Inc. v. City of Columbia, S.C., 33 F.3d 52 (4th Cir. 1994)
“evidence indicating that minority voters form voting majorities in a number of voting districts roughly proportional to their respective share of the appropriate population is relevant, though not dispositive, of whether minority voters have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to elect representatives of their choice.”
U.S. v. Charleston County, S.C, 365 F.3d 341 (4th Cir. 2004)
Causation is not assessed under Gingles III. The reason why minority and majority race voters vote differently is not relevant to the Gingles III inquiry. All that matters is that they do vote differently. Causation can be addressed during the totality of circumstances phase of investigation
Baten v. McMaster, 967 F.3d 345, 379 (4th Cir. 2020)
where “a plaintiff [has] established the Gingles prerequisites, that plaintiff is likely to succeed under the totality of the circumstances.”
Holloway v. City of Va. Beach, CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:18-cv-69 (E.D. Va. Mar. 31, 2021)
CVAP is used to satisfy Gingles I

Fifth Circuit

Rodriguez v. Bexar Cnty., Tex., 385 F.3d 853, 866 n.18 (5th Cir. 2004)
Reliance on Spanish surname registration data should not come before reliance on census data
Gonzalez v. Harris Cnty., 601 F. App'x 255, 258 (5th Cir. 2015)
To satisfy Gingles I, plaintiffs generally must show a hypothetical district plan to demonstrate that the minority group can be compactly grouped into a majority district
Valdespino v. Alamo Heights Indep Sch. Distr., 168 F.2d 848, 852-53 (5th Cir. 1999)
Satisfaction of Gingles I is a demonstration that the minority citizen voting age population is greater than 50% of the total citizen voting age of the district
League of United Latin Am. Citizens, Council No. 4434 v. Clements, 999 F.2d 831 (5th Cir. 1993)
When partisan affiliation, rather than race, best explains divergent voting patterns, there is no violation of the Voting Rights Act. If the defendant can offer evidence that some non-racial factor accounts for the racially polarized voting pattern, the plaintiff must come forth with evidence establishing the primacy of race in explaining the divergent voting preferences of Anglos and Latinos. See LULAC IV, 999 F.2d at 850–51.
Citizens for a Better Grena v. City of Gretna, La., 834, F.2d 496, 502 (5th Cir.1987).
RPV analysis requires endogenous elections; exogenous elections can only be supplementary. RPV analysis must use elections with a minority and majority race/ethnicity candidate.
Reyes v. City of Farmers Branch, Tex., 586 F.3d 1019, 1023 (5th Cir. 2009)
Citizen voting age population is the relevant population to satisfy Gingles I
Campos v. City of Baytown, 840 F.2d 1240, 1244 (5th Cir. 1988)
Multiple minority groups can be a single section 2 minority group if they are politically cohesive.

Sixth Circuit

United States v. City of Euclid 580 F.Supp.2d 584, 596 (N.D. Ohio 2008)
The Sixth Circuit does not require the use of any specific statistical method and does not require a specific statistical outcome in determining that racially polarized voting exists
Rural W. Tennessee African-American Affairs Council, 209 F.3d at 840
In the assessment of Gingles III, elections involving two majority-race candidates should be assessed alongside races between a minority-race and a majority race candidate
Nixon v. Kent County, 76 F.3d 1381, at 1389-91 (6th Cir. 1996)
Two minority groups cannot act as a coalition and jointly challenge as one minority group under the VRA

Eighth Circuit

Boneshirt v. Hazeltine, 461 F.3d 1011 (8th Cir. 2006)
Once a court determines liability (finds a plan in violation of the VRA), defendants must be given the first opportunity to submit a remedial plan. See also Cottier, 445 F.3d at 1123 and Williams v. City of Texarkana, 32 F.3d 1265, 1268 (8th Cir. 1994)
Harvell v. Blytheville Sch. Dist. No. 5, 71 F.3d 1382, 1388 (8th Cir. 1995)
Proportional representation of the minority group does not preclude finding a Section 2 violation

Ninth Circuit

Romero v. City of Pomona, 883 F.2d (9th Cir. 1989)
CVAP is the appropriate metric to prove Gingles I
Luna v. County of Kern, 291 F.Supp.3d 1088 (E.D. California, 2018)
Plaintiffs alleging a vote dilution claim under the VRA do not need to reside in all of the districts being challenged to have standing
Proportionality is considered a third important factor in the totality of circumstances analysis (alongside Senate Factors 2 and 7: the extent of racially polarized voting, and the extent to which minorities have been elected to public office in their jurisdiction), where “proportionality refers to “the relation of the number of majority-minority voting districts to the minority group's share of the relevant population”
Districts in which the minority group is the majority and the minority group elected its candidate of choice do “not weigh in the court's assessment of the usual defeat of Latino-preferred candidates, because an analysis of the third Gingles precondition applies only to districts with a majority of white citizens.”
“[E]lectoral success in majority-[minority] districts was relevant only to the totality of the circumstances inquiry, and not as to the third Gingles precondition.”
See also Whitford v. Gill, 218 F.Supp.3d 837, 929 (W.D. Wis. 2016)
Old Persons v. Cooney, 230 F.3d 1113 (9th Cir. 2000)
In the Gingles III criteria stating that the majority must “usually defeat” the minority’s candidate of choice, “usually defeat” is interpreted as more than half the time See also Luna v. County of Kern, 291 F.Supp.3d 1088 (E.D. California, 2018)
Garza v. County of Los Angeles, 918 F.2d 763, 772 (9th Cir. 1990)
Laches does not apply in instances where the injury to plaintiffs is ongoing (such as a dilutive redistricting scheme), and thus a challenge can come years after a redistricting plan took affect. See also Luna v. County of Kern, 291 F.Supp.3d 1088 (E.D. California, 2018)
Montes v. City of Yakima, 40 F. Supp. 3d 1377, 1405 (E.D. Wash. 2014)
District courts can not discount statistics about a minority group’s preferences on the basis of a low-turnout election
Badillo v. City of Stockton, 956 F.2d 884, 886 (9th Cir. 1992)
The Court assumed that multiple minority groups (Blacks and Hispanics in the case) can act as one Section 2 minority group if they are politically cohesive.

Tenth Circuit

Sanchez v. State of Colorado, 97 F.3d (1996)
Race can be taken into consideration to create majority-minority districts without coming under strict scrutiny so long as traditional redistricting criteria are not subordinated
Compliance with the Section 2 of the voting rights act is a compelling governmental interest.
See also Navajo Nation v. San Juan Cnty, 162 F. Supp. 3d 1162 (D. Utah 2016)

Eleventh Circuit

Negron v. City of Miami Beach, Fla., 113 F.3d 1563, 1568 (11th Cir. 1997)
Citizen voting age population is the relevant population to satisfy Gingles I
Concerned Citizens of Hardee Cty. v. Hardee Cty. Bd. of Comm'rs, 906 F.2d 524, 525 (1990)
Multiple minority groups can be a single section 2 minority group if they are politically cohesive.
Nipper v. Smith, 39 F.3d 1494 (11th Cir. 1994)
Satisfaction of Gingles I requires showing “the existence of a proper remedy” which is weighed against the state’s interest in maintaining the election model (such as an at-large election model). See also: Davis v. Chiles, 139 F.3d 1414 (11th Cir. 1998) and S. Christian Leadership Conference of Alabama v. Sessions, 56 F.3d 1281, 1294 (11th Cir. 1995)