WASHINGTON― People of color are having a much harder time registering to vote than white people in Florida and North Carolina, according to a new analysis.
Voter data from Florida, obtained and analyzed by the civil rights group Advancement Project and technology firm BlueLabs, shows that 10 percent of people of color who tried to register to vote still have their applications “pending,” compared to only three percent of white applicants. While only 42 percent of newly registered voters in the key battleground state are people of color, minorities make up 71 percent of the pending list, meaning their applications are disproportionately getting stalled.
The reason codes on the “pending” applications list include a number of justifications for why new voters are not able to register ― often that the person’s identification number, address, driver’s license and Social Security numbers is either invalid, incomplete or didn’t match up. In other cases, the person was identified as a felon ― Florida leads the nation in disenfranchising voters who have committed felonies. The process is often flawed, resulting in eligible voters being blocked from the polls.
The numbers are similar in North Carolina. While only one-third of people in the state who registered in 2016 were people of color, this group made up nearly half of the registrations that are still pending. The reason codes include that the application is “unreadable,” or that a signature is missing.
“While it’s unclear whether there is something systemic going on, either intentionally or not, it’s definitely something that should be examined and hopefully corrected,” said Matthew Saniie, the vice president of BlueLabs.
It’s hardly surprising that people of color are having a disproportionately hard time registering to vote. When the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, it opened the door for states to pass new voting restrictions that discriminate against minority voters. North Carolina, in particular, has a history of deliberately disenfranchising black voters, and the state’s Republican Party bragged Sunday that African-American early voting turnout is 8.5 percent lower this year than in 2012.
The stakes could not be higher: North Carolina and Florida are both crucial battleground states, without which GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump could probably not win the White House. The race is very close in both states, and a low turnout among minority voters would greatly benefit Trump. A recent CBS poll shows that only four percent of black voters support Trump, and nearly 60 percent of Latino voters back Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Trump seemed encouraged by the low black turnout on Monday.
“African-Americans aren’t turning out,” he said at rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, “and when they do, a lot of them are voting for Trump.”