In the 2012 election, African-American voters may have turned out at a higher rate than white voters for the first time in history. According to Politico, black voters clearly turned out a higher percentages of registered voters than other ethnic minorities, and if early results from the Pew Research Center are to be believed, they voted in greater percentages than white voters.
Pew’s Paul Taylor wrote that Hispanic and Asian voters are growing in electoral clout by dint of growing population numbers, but the rising power of the black vote has come through organization, registration and mobilization. Higher percentages of registered black voters turn out on Election Day, a percentage that has grown in each of the last four presidential elections.
“These participation milestones are notable not just in light of the long history of black disenfranchisement,” said Taylor, “but also in light of recently-enacted state voter identification laws that some critics contended would suppress turnout disproportionately among blacks and other minority groups.”
Many election watchers worried earlier this year that voter ID laws in powerful swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania would disenfranchise millions of black voters, as well as attempts to suppress early voting by Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted.
“(A)ccording to census data and the election day exit polls,” said the Pew report, “blacks made up 12 percent of the eligible electoratethis year but accounted for an estimated 13 percent of all votes cast—a repeat of the 2008 presidential election, when blacks ‘over-performed’ at the polls by the same ratio. In all previous presidential elections for which there are reliable data, blacks had accounted for a smaller share of votes than eligible voters.”
“Did the turnout rate of blacks exceed that of whites this year for the first time ever? For now, there’s circumstantial evidence but no conclusive proof,” said the report. “And there’ll be no clear verdict until next spring, when the U.S. Census Bureau publishes findings from its biannual post-election survey on voter turnout.”
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