Voting on campus

Within our country, minority populations such as African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americas are rising. Based on census statistics from USAFacts, when adding together the population of each of these minority groups, the total number comes out to be a little more than 123 million in comparison to over 197 million white Americans. Even though their numbers are not close to what makes up the majority of the population within our country, minorities have the power to swing elections when they go out to vote.

Minorities have been granted the right to vote for many decades now but the voter turnout of minority groups remains to be fairly low. Even though our voting obstacles aren’t as bad as before, we still have them, such as racial biases that are in place to keep minority voter turnout low. A prime example of this is in Georgia. According to the Washington Post, a law known as “exact match” hurt many eligible voters where their voting status can be suspended if their name on their driver’s license or Social Security records doesn’t exactly match the name that they wrote down on the form when they registered to vote. There were 51,000 individuals that were affected by this and of those, 80 percent of them were African Americans. This played a significant role in the 2018 gubernatorial election where an African American candidate Stacey Abrams lost the election by 55,000 votes. This is a rather unfortunate event and the state of Georgia shouldn’t have such a marginalizing law in the first place, but if citizens were informed of it earlier on, spread awareness, or researched, it would’ve collectively increased the voter turnout statistic for those that were affected. 

Despite the obstacles that continue to face minorities to this day in regard to voting, a study conducted by Pew Research stated that there was a historic amount of minority voter turnout that occurred in 2018 during the midterm elections. Hispanics and Asians were two of the minority groups that saw the major increases which made that election year the most diverse. The Hispanic turnout for voting was extremely prominent since the number of people that went out to vote was close to the amount that tends to vote during presidential elections. In 2018, the total number of Hispanic voters was 11.7 million which is a significant increase from the 2014 midterm election of 6.8 million. For Asian Americans, the turnout rate increased to 42.7 percent in comparison to the turnout rate of 29.6 percent in the 2014 midterm elections. One of the reasons why Hispanics had an increase not just in turnout but also in voter registration, was due to registration drives, segments on television giving detailed information on how and where to vote and digital content that were promoted by the Vota Conmigo campaign. As for Asian Americans, naturalized immigrants have been the main reason why their voter turnout has dramatically increased within recent years. According to the Pew Research study, between 2000 and 2018, the voter turnout for Asian Americans increased from 3.3 million to 6.9 million. Loung Ung, an American-Cambodian human rights activist, said, “Voting is not only our right, it is our power.”

To the minorities at UNC Charlotte, if you’ve never voted in an election before, now is the time to do so. It is critical for minorities to vote for a candidate that represents your ideals and will provide benefits for you. This election is bound to be one of the most pivotal elections within our lifetime, especially for minorities. We’ve been watching the news during quarantine with all the injustices that have happened. For example, Trump ending racial sensitivity training and the qualified immunity that wrongfully took the lives of innocent people like Breonna Taylor or George Floyd. And now that the ability to vote is more available today, can really eliminate some of the obstacles that minorities have to face in this country. The future of many minority groups depends on your civic duty to vote.

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