As election day draws near, the anticipation of whether the black community will show out in record number increases. Back in 2008, black Americans set record numbers as they exercised their right to vote during the historical election. Although the black community as a whole participated during the election, studies show black men vote at lower rates than other ethnic groups.
According to statistics presented by Black Christian News, “another 70,000 votes would have been cast in Georgia’s 2008 general election if black men voted at the same rate as black women.” Information collected by the United States Census Bureau and The Georgia Secretary of State exemplify the division among black men:
- Only 63 percent of eligible black men are registered to vote in GA, in comparison to the 76 percent of black women and 75 percent of whites registered to vote
- Of those registered to vote, 70 percent of black men cast a vote during the 2008 general election: 80 percent of black women, 78 percent of white women, and 76 percent of white men cast their votes during the previous presidential election
While numbers have show black women come to the polls, many question the reasons why black men opt not to vote during presidential elections. Remembering the struggle of his ancestors who lost their lives fighting for Black Americans to vote, Georgia resident Rod Harris explains his reasoning for voting, “it’s my duty as an African American male to vote, to participate.”
Though men like Harris are familiar with the voting process, 19-year-old Decario Jeffery lacks the basic knowledge of voter registration requirements. Jefferey admit to not knowing how old one has to be to vote. Individuals who are uneducated about voter registration requirements and the impact voting can have on the community are inclined not to vote says, Nancy Flake Johnson, president of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta.
In addition to lack of knowledge, “disproportionately high” incarceration rates contribute to the lack of political participation among black men. African American men who are convicted of felonies in GA, loose their right to vote until they complete their full sentencing. Confused about the limitations of voting rights, many convicted individuals believe they are unable to vote entirely.
As a means of informing the black community, the National Urban League created Occupy The Vote. The program allows African Americans the opportunity to resource information pertaining to the voter registration process. In implementing Occupy The Vote, many hope citizens will become interested in politics and actively voice their opinions and concerns through voting.
To those who neglect to see the importance of voting, Congressional Black Caucus chairman, and U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., offers some words of inspiration:
African Americans who choose not to vote ‘ought to give us their color back.’ Cleaver continues saying, not voting “is an insult to the ancestors and the people who brought us to where we are right now”.
Words by: Taisje Claiborne |Twitter|
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