Turnout was up for black voters overall in the state’s May primary, but further analysis reveals plenty of shades of gray in the data. Statewide, 44-thousand more African-Americans cast their ballot, but turnout is actually down in more than half of the counties in North Carolina where blacks make up a large portion of registered voters. Democracy North Carolina – a nonpartisan group – analyzed turnout county by county.
Executive director Bob Hall explains “We can’t brag about any of that and we really ought to be helping make voting more accessible and more exciting to people. They need to recognize that people that are elected have a tremendous impact on their lives.”
Attorneys representing the state in a lawsuit regarding the recent voting-law changes are using the increased turnout to argue that the new laws are not causing voter suppression. According to the analysis by Democracy NC, 82-percent of the increased black vote occurred in the 12 counties where there were highly contested races.
Mecklenberg County saw the biggest increase in African-American votes, but the county was the center of a highly anticipated Democratic primary in the 12th Congressional District. Hall says it’s important to understand the overall statewide increase is influenced by a handful of counties.
“The bulk of the increase happened in a handful of counties where there were African-American candidates in the D1emocratic primaries running against white candidates generally, and it galvanized the communities,” said Hall
Recent voting law changes in North Carolina decreased the number of early voting days and will require voters to provide a government-issued photo ID in 2016.