By Chris Cooper and Michael Bitzer
The Increasing Relevance of a Footnote
Both of us spend a lot of time with the North Carolina voter registration and voter history files. When we present data, evidence, and analyses from these files, we usually provide a small footnote that indicates something like “*we exclude a small number of voters for which demographic data are not available” or acknowledge that a portion of voters don’t report their classification. Over the past few months, however, we both have begun to question how small of a number these "no label" voters really represents. In the course of investigating it, we have discovered that, while still relatively small, the number of folks who do not answer the demographic questions when they register to vote is increasing. As we discuss below, this presents some problems that many of us must grapple with when doing similar analyses in the future.