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Black Votes Matter: Why the African American Vote Is So Crucial

During the 2016 presidential election, 82% of black men and 94% of black women voted for Hillary Clinton – This outcome helped Clinton win the popular vote by over 3 million votes. In a highly controversial Senate race in Alabama, Democrat Doug Jones won over Republican Roy Moore, by a 1% margin. This made Jones the first Democratic senator to come out of Alabama in over 20 years.

Once again, the African American vote seems to have a strong impact. The results showed that 98% of black women and 93% of black men voted for Jones. The black population in Alabama is 26%, but there was a 29% voter turnout in the Senate election. Often there is the stereotype that black people don’t vote, when in fact that this is not true. The reason why this stereotype exists is that there is a long history of the black vote being blocked. From the grandfather clause post-slavery and the literacy tests during the Jim Crow era, black people have often been discouraged from voting due to harsh backlash.

With its strict voter ID laws and laws restricting felons of the right to vote, Alabama is a state that has often been accused of voter suppression. These laws that have been put into place have often discouraged black voters to go to the polls due to not having access to proper identification or their past criminal records. In an op-ed by the New York Times, Scott Douglas explains how voter suppression in Alabama directly affects the citizens. He writes, “I work with poor, black, Alabamians. Many of them don’t have cars or drivers licenses and make under $10,000 a year. They can’t afford to pay someone to drive them to the motor vehicles or registrar’s office, which is often miles away”. Although meant to make elections fairer, voter ID laws have seemed to hurt black Alabamians rather than help them; this has caused many black voices to be suppressed and unheard in important elections.

Another thing is that African-Americans are often assumed to vote Democrat when the Democratic Party themselves don’t focus on issues pertaining to black people. Political scientist Paul Frymer explains, “We generally think all voters have influence, But just as voters in battleground states are more heavily courted during a presidential election, he said, modern politicians have focused their efforts on “moderate, disaffected whites in the middle — whether you call them soccer moms or NASCAR dads”. The feeling having black issues ignored causes black people to be less likely to go to the polls and cast their vote in an election.

The goal of an election is to choose someone who will represent an area well. Therefore it is important that each group of people get a say. The voting restrictions that disproportionally affect minority groups such as African Americans results in them to going to the polls less, meaning that their voices are not taken into consideration and that the election could be biased towards a certain group of people. It is important that the African American vote is taken into consideration as they have been excluded for so long and most likely have a lot to say.

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