Black People … Why Didn’t You Vote? (Answer Anonymously)

Two smiling women stand outdoors and hold signs reading
“Vote Baby Vote” and “Voting is People Power,” c. 1970.
(Photo: Gabriel Hackett /Getty Images)


So Twitter is buzzing right now about the fact that only 4.7% of African Americans voted yesterday. However, CBS News reports that the number is approximately 10%.  Better, but still a problem. In real numbers, that is about 4 million Black voters out of 40 million+ Black Americans.

Why didn’t you vote? Answer anonymously and leave your location.


NOTE: To answer anonymously just use a fake name/email address if you are asked for one.


UPDATE: Someone mentioned in the responses that my stats were off. I agreed  the info and link below provides more details.

“African Americans” is a trending topic on Twitter right now, thanks in large part to tweets repeating the claim that only 4.7% (or, in some tweets, 4% or 5% or 10%) of blacks bothered to vote yesterday.

But it’s not true. None of it is anywhere close to true.

The real number is about 34%.

Official stats on voting by race aren’t kept, but from exit polls, vote totals, and census information, you can estimate this stuff pretty well. About 38% of the voting age population of the United States turned out to vote in yesterday’s election. There are about 26.5 million African Americans of voting age in the United States. According to exit poll data, blacks made up about 10% of the total electorate this year. About 90 million people voted in this election, and if 10% of them were black, that makes 9 million. Nine million is 34% of 26.5 million.

In other words, about a third of black adults voted this year, a percentage that’s only slightly lower than the population as a whole.

So where did the 4.7% thing come from? A tweet posted yesterday evening seems to be the source. That tweet, as you can see, is only about Wisconsin, and the guy who tweeted it later clarified that he was only referring to Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. Source

8 Replies to “Black People … Why Didn’t You Vote? (Answer Anonymously)”

  1. Sondjata Olatunji

    First and foremost it is wrong to state:

    “CBS News reports that the number is approximately 10%. Better, but still a problem. In real numbers, that is about 4 million Black voters out of 40 million+ Black Americans.”

    out of 40 million Black Americans, how many are of legal age?

    Out of that group how many have been convicted of a felony and live in a state that permanently revokes voting rights of ex-felons?

    That is your baseline number.

    Secondly you need to ask where these black people are living. Did they live in a state where there was a contest? Specifically speaking did they live in a state in which there was a strong Republican candidate. Which brings us to the next point:

    Third. In states such as NY where Democrats far outnumber Republicans, Would the outcomes of the elections in those states changed had black voters voted at their maximum? If not, then what exactly was their motivation? Similarly do those black persons live in districts or states in which they are vastly outnumbered by Republicans?

    4) How many candidates in places where black voter turnout would have been THE deciding factor (A huge supposition) actually laid out an agenda for their black constituencies? And let me be clear here saying things like:

    “your/our people were lynched”
    “Your/our people died so….”

    and other such things is not an agenda. It is guilt tripping. Guilt tripping is not an agenda.

    Telling black voters, like the ones in NYC where they are having their constitutional rights violated daily by the police with no consequences from Republicans or Democrats, that they have to vote in order to save themselves from Republicans is a SAD JOKE. To tell black people who have always had the short end of the employment stick, the housing stick, the banking stick and every other stick that their already bad situation will be worse under Republicans is like telling a drowning man that he’s drowning. You ain’t helping. If I’m already poor under your watch , I’m gonna still be poor on someone elses.

    • AroundHarlem

      Good points re:the numbers.

      I asked a simple question which has a complex answer. Your response has my curiosity peaked. I want to explore the answers.

  2. Intellect88

    As a concerned citizen, I did vote. Especially living in Illinois, elections here were particularly important. While I am not happy with Kirk (R) winning the senate seat here, I don’t regret not voting. As an academician, it is important that we understand that roughly 60% of registered voters vote in the midterm elections–I’d imagine the numbers are far greater for African Americans. Which is sad, as a Black man, I spent a lot of my time informing people to vote. While I am not trying to deflect the blame off African Americans not voting. However, I contend that the question we should be asking is: why didn’t congressmen/women and/or governors campaign to the predominantly Black communities? Or, How did the narratives of those who ran for offices speak to the complex narratives of Blacks? They didn’t. We must also understand the systemic and subtle obstacles that are in place to prevent Blacks (and others) from voting (incarceration, votes on working days, registration laws, etc). My hope is that we will continue to galvanize our fellow brothers and sisters so that they can vote. It will be especially crucial in the next presidential elections. Peace.

    • AroundHarlem

      Excellent response.

      Locally, I feel the politicians are not listening to people or they don’t care because they know we are not going to vote.

  3. L

    Well, I live in Washington, DC, which is mostly Democratic. I didnt vote yesterday because the winners had already been chosen during the primary in September. Plus, I am feeling a bit of voters malaise lately anyway because, being a DC resident, our votes dont mean much anyways.

    Our congressperson and Senator dont have votes in Congress, so…. As I stated above, all I could vote for was Mayor, congressperson, Senator, and school board representative. All other offices (council member, ANC representative, etc.) werent up for election this year.

    Am I sorry? A wee bit, because I always thought voting was important. But the older I get, the less certain I become.


    • AroundHarlem

      Thanks for your honest answer.

      I think a lot of people felt the same way in Harlem. They kept saying my vote isn’t going to matter because Charlie Rangel is just going to win again.

  4. Blackberry

    I DID vote. The polling place is literally across the street from my apt. I would have been riddled with guilt had I not taken advantage of the right that was so hard fought for. I didn’t like any of the candidates, but I voted because I could. So maybe the question should be ‘why DID you vote?’

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