Are Black Voters in North Carolina Suppressed or Depressed?

By | November 2, 2016

It’s been a full week since early voting began in North Carolina. The state has been in the spotlight throughout the campaign season for its massive Moral Monday demonstrations and controversial anti-LGBTQ bathroom bills. It’s also notorious for passing an extremely restrictive voter ID law and gerrymandering its districts to create apartheid-like voting conditions . Some thought that North Carolina’s hard-right turn from 2010 to 2014 would rouse voters most heavily burdened by the conservative measures mentioned above. So far, that hasn’t been the case, according to polling statistics analyzed by the North Carolina-based data group insightus.

Voter turnout for African Americans in North Carolina is currently well below what it was at the end of the first week of early voting in 2012. White voters, meanwhile (and Republican white voters especially) have been outperforming their 2012 turnout rates. There are many possible explanations for this, says William Busa, insightus’ president and founder, but the data doesn’t favor any single one.

“Are some voters left feeling a little leery by the loose talk of ‘poll watchers’ in ‘certain areas?” asks Busa. “Are there other, more subtle, voter suppression effects at work? Or is it just that 2012 offered voters a black candidate to vote for, and 2016 doesn’t? Perhaps some combination of all of the above?” (CityLab)

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