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The Voice of the Black Community

State & National

N.C. voter turnout not just black and white
 
Published Wednesday, July 9, 2014
by Stephanie Carroll Carson, N.C. News Service

CHARLOTTE – Turnout was up for black voters overall in the state's May primary, but further analysis reveals plenty of shades of gray in the Tarheel State's voting data.

Statewide, 44,000 more African-Americans cast their ballot than in the 2012 primary, but turnout is actually down in more than half of North Carolina's counties where blacks make up a large portion of registered voters. The nonpartisan group Democracy North Carolina analyzed turnout county by county, and, according to Executive Director Bob Hall, more needs to be done to make voting more accessible – and to remind voters of the gravity of their choices.

"Voters need to recognize the people that are elected have a tremendous impact on their lives," Hall said.

Attorneys representing the state in a lawsuit regarding the recent voting-law changes are using the increased turnout to argue new laws are not causing voter suppression. According to Democracy North Carolina, 82 percent of the increased black vote occurred in the 12 counties where the state's most competitive races occurred.

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 counties where African-American candidates in Democratic primaries were running against white candidates generally,” he said. "It galvanized the communities."

Recent voting law changes in North Carolina decreased the number of early voting days, and will require voters to provide a government-issued photo I.D. in 2016.

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