Will barriers to black voting tip the critical battleground state of North Carolina?

By | November 7, 2016

North Carolina remains one of the most critical battleground states in the country in 2016. Right now, FiveThirtyEight.com projects the vote margin between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is a razor-thin 0.1 percent — about 6,800 voters, or three voters per North Carolina precinct.

Besides the down-to-the-wire presidential contest, North Carolina also has toss-up races for U.S. Senate, governor, N.C. Supreme Court and attorney general that could shape the political direction of the state for years to come.

With margins so close up and down the ballot, black leaders and voting rights advocates have voiced growing alarm over data showing that early voting among African Americans in North Carolina has dropped significantly since the last presidential election in 2012.

The decline was most pronounced last week, when many North Carolina counties had yet to open all of their early voting sites. While black early voting has picked up in recent days, a Facing South/Institute for Southern Studies analysis of early voting data as of Friday, Nov. 4, finds that the share of North Carolina’s early voters who are African-American has dropped from 27 percent in 2012 to just under 22 percent of the early voting electorate in 2016. (Facing South)

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