The Time Tax: Millennial Voting Habits & Suppression Concerns

December 19, 2013

Looking toward the 2014 midterm elections, two national organizations – the multi-racial civil rights organization Advancement Project and OurTime.org, a nationwide organization that enhances the political voice of young Americans – are calling attention to the experience of young voters, and particularly young voters of color. The joint report, The Time Tax: America's Newest Form of Voter Suppression for Millennials, and How it Must Be Eliminated to Make Voting Accessible for the Next Generation, highlights the often overlapping demographics of young voters and voters of color. Particularly emphasized is the “time tax” experienced by these voters, including being more likely to wait in the nation’s longest lines, the time required to get government-issued voter ID, and other voting inconveniences that impact them disproportionately. The report also provides data-based recommendations to make voting easier for the growing majority of our country.

The millennial generation of Americans aged 18 to 29 is more racially diverse than the general population, a trend that will continue dramatically in the coming years. As the demographics of our nation change, the racial composition of the electorate is changing too, with young voters and voters of color making up an increasingly important share of voters. Concurrently, over the past few years, a wave of regressive voting policies have been enacted or proposed in a majority of states, including restrictive voter ID laws and cuts to early voting periods (and subsequently longer wait times). As The Time Tax details, these measures have a disparate impact on both voters of color and young voters.

“Young voters turned out in 2012 in spite of numerous barriers to the ballot, not because the system worked efficiently,” said Matthew Segal, President and Co-Founder of OurTime.org “From long lines and photo ID restrictions, to emerging issues like challenging the residency of student voters and the need to update our antiquated registration process, young people, and especially young people of color, are disparately impacted. As we look toward the midterm elections of 2014, we must, and we can, fix this.”

“In the face of targeted tactics from politicians, many youth voters across the country are refusing to have their voices silenced and are fighting back,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis. “Change is also coming through community-based coalition building that taps the tools of direct advocacy with election officials and litigation to challenge voter suppression policies in court. Together we are building a next-generation voting rights movement, and we will prevail.”

Using original new research on Florida and Virginia (the two states with the longest voter wait times in 2012), U.S. Census data, supplementary reports, and stories gathered from the 2012 and 2013 election seasons, the report tells a comprehensive story about the barriers currently facing the diverse voters of the millennial generation. Submitted to the Presidential Committee on Election Administration – a working group that President Obama tasked with finding ways to improve the voting experience – the report also provides election reform recommendations. Findings include:

  • According to U.S. Census data, 61 percent of millennials are non-Hispanic White, compared to more than 70 percent of adults aged 30 and over. Among millennials, 19 percent are Latino, 14 percent are African-American, 5% are Asian-American, and 1 percent identify themselves as “Other.”
     
  • An estimated 22-23 million young voters, aged 18 to 29, turned out during the 2012 election, comprising 19 percent  of the American electorate —a greater share than in 2008 (18 percent). However, the data also shows that the turnout rate among young voters is lower than the rate of other groups.
     
  • In Miami-Dade, Florida, which had some of the nation’s longest voting lines in 2012, people of color and young voters generally faced the longest waits. More than 20 percent of voters in Miami-Dade County were under 30, and closing times were later in precincts where there were more voters under 30.
     
  • In Fairfax County, Virginia, in 2012, precincts with a greater density of voters between the ages of 25 and 34 had later closing times. In Virginia’s Prince William County, voters under 24, and between 25 to 34, had much higher percentages of voters casting their ballots after the official close of polls.
     
  • In all states (with or without photo ID laws), young voters of color were asked to show ID more often than White youth in 2012. In a Black Youth Project survey, Black young people reported that a lack of required identification prevented them from voting at nearly four times the rate of their White counterparts – 17.3 percent compared to 4.7 percent. Latino youth, at 8.1 percent, were also affected at higher rates.

“The ballot box is the one place where we are all supposed to be equal, whether young or old, rich or poor, and no matter one’s race,” said Katherine Culliton-González, director of Advancement Project’s Voter Protection Program. “These fundamental American values are broken, and we need to fix it now for the generations to come. We’ve submitted our report’s recommendations to the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, calling on them to making it easier, not harder, for young voters to participate in our democracy.”

The joint report concludes with recommendations for policymakers, including 1.) inclusive online voter registration, 2.) mandatory early voting periods in all 50 states, 3.) same-day registration, 4.) no-excuse absentee voting, and 5.) the elimination of strict voter ID requirements – positive and flexible measures better adapted to the lives of young voters.

Find the full report in the link below.


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You need an ID to buy a gun, why not to vote ? It will stop fraud.

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