North Carolina Black Voter Turnout Tops in US

May 10, 2013

NCCU students Johnae Stoutamire and Lateria Watts text friends after voting for the first time in the 2012 presidential election.
Credit Leoneda Inge

National numbers from the US Census Bureau this week showed that in 2012, black voter turn-out exceeded that for whites, for the first time.  The story was the same in North Carolina.  Nationally – about 66% of eligible blacks voted in the November 2012 election.  In North Carolina – just over 80% of blacks voted – the highest voter turnout in any state.

Jarvis Hall is a Political Science professor at North Carolina Central University in Durham.  Hall says he is not surprised by the latest census numbers, noting that in 2008, North Carolina had the highest increase of voter participation for a races.

"On the ground there were major efforts to register especially minorities, both black and Hispanic to vote in this past election. But again, this is a part of a trend that really started in 04," said Hall.  "A lot of it has to do with the relatively progressive voting laws that we have had...that provides more opportunity for people to register and to vote."

But Hall says those laws are under attack by the new Republican legislature.

Voter turnout for whites in North Carolina in 2012 was 66.3%.  Hispanic voter turnout was 56-percent.  But the Census cautions, that number has an 18-point margin of error.

Thom File is a Sociologist at the US Census Bureau and author of the report, "The Diversifying Electorate - Voting Rates by Race and Hispanic Origin in 2012."  The report says blacks were the only race or ethnic group to show a significant increase between the 2008 and 2012 elections.

"North Carolina specifically is in the census division which we call the South Atlantic.  And what we found in the South Atlantic was that black voting rates were higher than non-Hispanic voting rates in 2012," said File.