Black voter turnout may have surpassed whites for the first time
Despite often-voiced concerns about the effect of voter identification laws, black voter turnout remained high in 2012 and, for the first time, may have topped the rate for whites, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.
Four years ago, the rate of black voter turnout almost equaled that of whites, continuing a trend of a steady increase in black turnout rates that began in 1996. This year, with white turnout appearing to have dropped, black turnout seems very likely to have exceeded the white level, although definitive figures won’t be available until the Census Bureau reports in a few months.
A higher turnout rate among blacks than whites would mark an historic milestone given America’s long history of disenfranchising blacks. Blacks were effectively barred from polls in many states until after passage of the federal Voting Rights Act in 1965.
In the run-up to this year’s presidential election, a number of states with Republican-majority legislatures passed laws limiting voting hours, curtailing voter registration efforts or requiring voters to show identification. Many black leaders said those laws would disproportionately hurt elderly, poor and minority voters and accused Republicans of running a campaign of “voter suppression.”