ACLU 2012 campaign to let people vote. Click on any of the four panels below to view or download a larger version.

Get out the vote?

After a surge of voter interest and participation in 2008, vote suppression efforts across the country have been on the rise.

Shrinking the gap

The levels of participation by African-American, Hispanic and Asian voters all increased from 2004 to 2008, reducing the voter participation gap between minority and white voters

In 2004, the voter participation gap between White & African-American voters was 6.9%. In 2008 it was 0.9%.

2.1 million more African-American voters cast ballots in 2008 than in 2004. 15% more African-American voters cast ballots in 2008 than 2004.

2.1 million more Hispanic voters cast ballots in 2008 than 2004. 28% more Hispanic voters cast ballots in 2008 than 2004.

The increase

Increased minority voter turnout resulted in unprecedented diversity in the 2008 election. U.S. Census Bureau data show an increase of approximately 5 million voters from 2004 to 2008.

The (expected) decrease

With new voter suppression laws in effect, an estimated 5 million eligible voters could be kept from registering and/or casting a ballot in 2012.

State outlook

The five states with the highest rates of voter turnout in 2008 were:

  1. Minnesota
  2. Wisconsin
  3. Maine
  4. New Hampshire
  5. Colorado

All 5 introduced voter suppression laws.

Voter suppression

After record voter turnout in 2008, more than 30 states introduced voter suppression legislation in 2011: 16 states passed such measures.

Voter registration

Barriers to voter registration make it harder for Americans to participate in our democracy.

Early Voting

Without early voting, voters who cannot make it to the polls on election day will not be able to vote.

Voter ID

Voter ID requirements limit the number of people who are able to cast a ballot.

Voter Registration

Barriers to voter registration will make it harder for Americans to participate in our democracy.

Thirteen states introduced bills that would:

  • End highly popular Election Day and same-day voter registration
  • Limit voter registration drives
  • Reduce opportunities for voters to register

Some examples:

  • Maine: Eliminate Election Day registration
  • Ohio: End period when voters could register and vote on the same day
  • Florida and Texas: Restrict voter registration drives
  • Florida and Wisconsin: Make it more difficult for people who move to stay registered and vote

Racial Breakdown

Census data shows that Hispanic and African-American voters are about twice as likely to register to vote through voter registration drives as white voters.

In 2008, 11.4% of African-American, 9.6% of Hispanic, and 5.4% of white voters used voter registration drives.

Early Voting

Without early voting, voters who cannot make it to the polls on Election Day will not be able to vote.

In 2011, ten states introduced bills that would reduce early or absentee voting periods; such bills PASSED in Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Early or Absentee Voting Periods

Florida
2004: 14 days
2008: 8 days

Georgia
2008: 45 days
2012: 21 days

Ohio
2008: 35 days
2012: 17 days

Tennessee
2008: 15 days
2012: 13 days

West Virginia
2008: 17 days
2012: 10 days

In 2004 20% of ballots were cast before election day.

In 2008, 30% of ballots were cast before election day.

Early voting in 2008

African-American voters are much more likely to take advantage of early voting. In Florida and Georgia, high percentages of African-Americans voted in the early voting period.

In Florida 54% of African-Americans voted at early voting sites

In Georgia, 35% of African-Americans voted at early voting sites.

Voter ID

Voter ID requirements limit the number of voters who are able to cast a ballot.

Eight states passed voter ID laws in 2011: Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

Approximately 1 in 10 Americans do not have a government-issued photo ID.

Approximately 1 in 4 African-Americans do not have a government-issued photo ID.

Minority Voters at the State Level

In South Carolina, 81,938 minority voters lack government-issued ID; minority voers are 20 PERCENT MORE LIKELY to lack photo ID issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles than white voters.

Impact on Low-Income Voters

Fifteen percent of Americans who earn less than $35,000 a year do not have a government-issued photo ID.

View the Infographic.

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