Election Law and White Identity Politics

By Joshua S. Sellers

The role of race in American politics looms large in several election law doctrines. Regrettably, though, these doctrines’ analyses of race, racial identity, and the relationships between race and politics often lack sophistication, historical context, or foresight. The political status quo is treated as race-neutral, when in fact it is anything but. Specifically, the doctrines rely upon sanguine theories of democracy uncorrupted by white identity–based political calculations, while in fact such calculations, made on the part of both voters and political parties, are pervasive.

In this Article, I appraise the doctrine pertaining to majority-minority voting districts, racial gerrymandering doctrine, the doctrine governing ballot access disputes, and campaign finance doctrine through the lens of white identity politics. Drawing from research in political science, sociology, and history, I argue that these doctrines are blighted by what I identify as “racial blind spots” that are inconsonant with political reality. Given the role that courts play in enunciating these doctrines, their failure to meaningfully engage with the significance of white identity politics renders their governing frameworks and remedial prescriptions inapt. The Article concludes by offering a number of suggestions, both doctrinal and legislative, for how to mitigate white identity politics.