Young Black voters pay higher ‘time tax’ at the polls

Freddie Allen | 12/16/2013, 7:49 a.m.

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – As the American electorate becomes more diverse, new voting laws threaten to disenfranchise young Black and Latino voters in what a new report called “the largest wave of voter suppression since the enactment of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.”

The report by OurTime.org and Advancement Project, titled “The Time Tax,” details disparities in the excessive wait times that millennials – 18 to 29 years old – especially millennials of color, endured to cast votes during the 2012 November elections.

According to the report, millennials are expected to account for 40 percent of the electorate in less than eight years including a higher proportion of young minority voters.

During the November 2012 elections, millennial voters accounted for 19 percent of the electorate. While turnout for Latinos, Asians and the youngest voters decreased, voter turnout for Blacks increased.

Yet, Blacks “waited an average of 23 minutes to vote, compared to only 12 minutes for Whites,” the report stated.

In Florida, the last state to report final vote tallies, the wait times were especially egregious for young voters and minorities during the 2012 November elections. According to the study, during the 2012 elections, Floridians reported “an average wait time of 39 minutes to cast a ballot,” three times the national average of 13.3 minutes.

“More than 20% of voters in Miami-Dade County were under 30, and closing times were later in precincts where there were more voters under 30,” the report stated.

Some voters complained of waiting 19 hours to vote in Florida, according to an Advancement Project study filed with the Presidential Commission of Election Administration, a government agency tasked with improving the voting experience for all eligible citizens. Voting rights advocates fear that the “time tax” will discourage young voters from voting in future elections.

New photo ID requirements will also have a disproportionate impact on young voters of color.

“Since the last election, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Texas and other states have tried to limit or ban the use of student IDs as voter identification,” the report stated.

Black youth scored lower rates of identifications compared to their White peers, for driver’s licenses (71.2 percent vs. 85.1 percent), birth certificates (73.3 percent vs. 84.3 percent) and college IDs (24.9 percent vs. 30.9 percent).

In 2012, poll workers asked young, minority voters (18-29 years old) to show ID at higher rates than their White peers. In states without photo ID requirements, more than 65 percent of young Blacks were asked to present identification, compared to 43 percent of young White voters. In states where photo IDs were required to cast votes, about 94 percent of young Blacks were asked for their ID compared to a little more than 84 percent of young Whites.

According to “The Time Tax” study, “Black youth reported that the lack of required identification prevented them from voting at nearly four times the rate of White youth (17.3 percent compared to 4.7 percent).”

Lawmakers in Wisconsin are attempting to pass legislation that will restrict the type of identification that will be accepted in future elections. The study found that registered African American voters in Wisconsin are 40 percent more likely than White voters to lack a driver’s license or state ID. Seventy-eight percent of young, Black men (18 to 24 years old) and 66 percent of young, Black women don’t have a driver’s license.