TheGrio/KFF survey shows that Black voters are concerned with voter suppression tactics

Forty-six percent of Black voters tell theGrio/KFF that they experienced waiting in long lines while trying to cast a ballot.

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A new study shows that 71% of Black voters fear voter suppression will interfere with the results of the 2022 midterm elections.

A recent TheGrio/KFF survey found that when Black voters were asked about a list of things that may have been problems for them when voting, 46% reported that they experienced waiting in long lines while trying to cast a ballot.

Georgia voters
People wait in line on the first day of early voting for the general election at the C.T. Martin Natatorium and Recreation Center on October 12, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Early voting in Georgia runs from October 12-30. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Leah Daughtry, co-convener of Power Rising and a leader of The Black Women’s Leadership Collective, told theGrio that Black Americans who have experienced longer wait times at polling sites are often victims of voter suppression.

“We saw in the 2020 presidential cycle where one man was in line in Georgia for eight hours. It is unconscionable that anyone should have to spend a work day, eight hours, standing in line to participate in the Democratic process,” said Daughtry.

She added, “If you look at these states like Texas or like Georgia, depending on where the voters are, the lines are longer or shorter. It would be one thing in Georgia if everybody stood in an eight-hour line, then you’d say, this system is broken and they need to fix it. But that’s not what’s happening. It is in communities of color [where] the voting population is predominantly African-American.”

Have you ever had to wait in long lines at your polling place?

Read full TheGrio/KFF Survey of Black Voters

Since former President Donald Trump lost his re-election campaign against then-president-elect Joe Biden in 2020, GOP leaders have employed what critics have characterized as voter suppression tactics in predominately Black cities across the nation to prevent record Democratic turnout from happening again.

In 2021, leaders in states like Texas, Arizona and Florida were swayed by false claims of voter fraud to pass legislation that would disproportionately impact Democratic-leaning communities in upcoming elections, the Associated Press reported.

TheGrio/KFF survey found when Black voters were asked to think about the current climate of the political system and Black representation in U.S. politics, 88% said they saw a problem with gerrymandering or redrawing election districts to favor one political party. Eighty-three percent of Black voters took issue with limiting early voting and vote by mail. Additionally, 75% of Black voters were concerned with laws that require voters to show government-issued photo identification. 

Political activist Perry Redd told theGrio that Trump losing the 2020 presidential election “showed us what a racist country that employs racist tactics in order to maintain power and the status quo looks like.”

According to the survey, 1 in 5 Black voters say they have had one of the following happen to them: their mail-in ballot was rejected; they requested a mail-in ballot that never arrived or arrived too late; were told they did not have the correct identification; had their voter registration questioned or were told that they were not registered to vote.

Redd told theGrio that the right to vote is one of the most important liberties Black Americans possess and he believes, “It is relevant for us to understand that those in power will do anything at all costs to keep that power” and that includes employing a variety of voter suppression tactics.

He added, “Voter suppression is a reflection of the fear of white males in America.”

The Poor People’s Campaign rallied and marched in Washington DC, where faith leaders, low-wage workers, and poor people from around the country protested for the US Senate to end the filibuster, protect voting rights, and raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. (Photo by Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Daughtry said that voter suppression tactics like long polling lines or voter registration issues could discourage Black voters from casting a ballot.

“People have health issues that impact their ability to stand in long lines not to mention people have lives. Who has 8 hours to stand in a line to cast a ballot particularly when that is not the norm in this country. When I go to vote I’m in and out of there in 5 minutes, but I live in New York and so it’s a very simple and easy process,” she said.

Daughtry continued, “But, in places like Georgia where voter suppression exists, it discourages people and makes them think ‘do I have potentially eight hours to stand in line and cast this ballot? Do I have medication? Do I have food that I need? Do I have mobility issues? Am I physically challenged? Am I in a wheelchair? Do I have what I need to cast a ballot?’”

Ultimately, she believes Republicans feel the need to instill voter suppression tactics because it allows them to “hand pick their voters for their desired candidates as opposed to the voters picking the people who represent them [the best].”

She added, “When communities of color, particularly Black people, vote, they don’t tend to vote for the conservative right-wing candidate. So, minimizing the vote or preventing people from voting…allows the conservative folks to have their cake and eat it too.”

TheGrio/KFF survey also found that 84% of Black voters believe their vote will be counted accurately on Nov. 8. That percentage breaks down to 45% of Black voters reporting that they were very confident, 40% said they were confident and only 16% stated they were either not too confident or not confident at all that their vote would be tallied fairly.

How confident are you that your vote will be accurately counted in this November’s midterm election?

Read full TheGrio/KFF Survey of Black Voters

Perry told theGrio that everyone should vote even if they are not confident that their vote will be counted properly.

“[The GOP] wants you to refrain from voting. They are looking to sabotage election outcomes in communities of color. Donald Trump and his ilk have said time and time again that the election was rigged, [and] that your vote doesn’t count…but never ignore the politics that will guide and make your life. Everything in America is litigious,” he said.

Perry added, “When folks want to employ inhumane tactics, then you know that what you’re doing is the right thing and it has a purpose.”

About the Survey

The Survey of Black Voters is the first partnership survey between theGrio and KFF, a nonprofit organization focused on research and analysis of health and other national issues. Teams from KFF and theGrio worked together to develop the questionnaire and analyze the data, and both organizations contributed financing for the survey. Each organization is solely responsible for its content.

The survey was conducted Aug. 24–Sept. 5 with a nationally representative, probability-based sample of 1,000 adults who identify as Black or African American and are registered to vote. The sample includes all voters who identify as Black or African American, including those who also identify as Hispanic or multi-racial. The sampling design includes Black registered voters reached online through the SSRS Opinion Panel and the Ipsos KnowledgePanel; to reach Black voters who do not use the internet, additional interviews were conducted by calling back respondents who previously participated in an SSRS Omnibus poll and identified as Black and said they did not use the internet. The combined telephone and panel samples were weighted to match the sample’s demographics to the national U.S. population of Black voters using data from the Census Bureau’s 2020 Current Population Survey (CPS) Voting and Registration supplement. Sampling, data collection, weighting and tabulation were managed by SSRS of Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, in close collaboration with KFF researchers.

The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points for results based on the full sample of Black voters. The full methodology and question-wording are available here.

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