1:37pm September 20, 2012

The Black Vote by the Numbers: 6 Million Eligible to Vote, But Not All Registered


By April Ryan, White House Correspondent, American Urban Radio Networks

“Every vote counts”, is cliché but this year Democrats are banking that saying it will move blacks to the polls on November 6, 2012.   Democrats, civil rights organizations and minority leaders are pushing that fact for the next 50 days leading into the Presidential election between Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

David Axelrod, Senior Obama Campaign Advisor reveals this year’s presidential contest will be so close; he is evoking Gore vs. Bush in 2000. That Presidential election was ultimately decided by the United States Supreme Court. In 2000, 537 Florida popular votes were at issue. George Bush had more of Florida’s popular votes than Gore. Yet, Al Gore had an advantage of nationwide popular votes but lost the battle for the Electoral College giving George W. Bush the Presidency.

As the race is expected to be very tight, there are efforts to get blacks to the polls but there are concerns the black vote will be disenfranchised for various reason to include voter ID laws that will go into effect in 30 states. Voter apathy is expected to be a huge deal along with voter intensity.

Cathy Cohen, Political Science professor at the University of Chicago, conducted a survey for the Black Youth Project saying they see a move to suppress the vote for the November 6th election. Cohen’s research finds voter suppression is carried out this way, “even though you are eligible to vote, we are now going to present some additional barriers that will probably prevent you from getting to the polls and casting a ballot.”  Cohen says, “if these laws [Voter ID] go into effect, minority youth voter turnout for of up to 700 thousand will be impacted.” The study finds those who will be impacted are “black, Latino, and Native American youth.”

Arnold Martin, the chair of the Fayette County, Georgia Democratic Committee says the Voter ID issue is a challenge for residents of his state, “We are trying to figure out how to get around it.”   He says the state of Georgia is even trying to change the requirement to get a driver’s license. So what are they doing in their anti-voter suppression efforts? “We focus a lot on raising a lot of money so that we can take those recourses and apply that to being able to getting people to the polls helping them getting with getting their ID’s, anything that is informational”, contends Martin.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley remarked during her address to the Republican National Convention weeks ago, if a state issued ID is mandatory at a bank and for boarding a plane, it should be required at the polls.

Atlanta area resident Martin Luther King the III, in an exclusive interview at the Democratic National Convention said, “It is imperative that we create the climate for everyone to vote…My dad often said, ‘A vote less people is a powerless people.’”

Congressional Black Caucus Chairman, Emanuel Cleaver has done the math with his statistics revealing, “If 2 percent of the [black] vote is suppressed in Ohio and in Pennsylvania, President Obama will lose. And if one percent in North Carolina is suppressed Obama can lose.”

In the very near future, The Congressional Black Caucus will host several concerts in some states expected to implement Voter ID laws on November 6th.  CBC Chair Emanuel Cleaver says the black federal lawmakers are hosting several events, to include concerts surrounding voter drives and anti-voter suppression efforts “in Jacksonville, in Cincinnati, and Kansas City,” a major drive which will include a closing concert.  Cleaver reveals “In Kansas City we will have a gospel extravaganza…in major city we will have prominent national singers. People will be able to come free if people bring their voter registration card at the door. If you do not have a voter registration card you can still attend by registering at the door or a change of address at the door.   We will in other places where we have concert, we will help people get government issued ID.  Whatever is needed in the place we visit is what we will provide.”

This election is also facing an old problem of voter apathy.  The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has new statistics showing 6 million blacks in this nation are eligible to vote, but, are not registered.

The NAACP has compiled information on every state.  6 million blacks are eligible, but not registered to vote. Here is a small sampling of the numbers of blacks eligible and not registered to vote:

Georgia – 484,231
California – 240, 695

Alabama – 234, 732
North Carolina – 409, 323
Ohio – 256,000

Virginia – 268, 091
Texas – 381, 916
Florida – 398,710

Louisiana – 287, 402
Illinois – 229, 834
Mississippi – 255,910
Michigan – 239, 433
Pennsylvania – 204,036

Another issue potentially hurtful to the Democratic Party on Election Day is voter intensity.   There are concerns that blacks may not support President Obama in the numbers as in 2008.  Democrats say, if it rains on Election Day, the black voting numbers may not come out in full force like in 2008.

photo: Obama rally in Norfolk, Va./wdcpix.com

About the Author

April Ryan
April Ryan
April Ryan is a 27-year journalism veteran and has been the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks (AURN) since January of 1997. She has covering three Presidents and covers the White House Report. Ryan is also a regular panelist on Washington Watch with Roland Martin for TV ONE.



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