Two million more black voters cast a ballot in the 2008 election than in 2004; and, young black voters had the highest increase in turnout among all groups, a U.S. Census Bureau report released today revealed.
“We knew black youth influenced the outcome of the election and will do so for years to come,” said Melanie L. Campbell, executive director and CEO of The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. “Today’s Census report backs up our findings.”
Although voter turnout among some groups decreased or remained the same in 2008, according to the Census tables, overall 18 to 24 year-old turnout saw a two percent increase over 2004, reaching 49 percent. However, 18- to 24-year-old black voters turned out at 55 percent, an eight percent increase from 2004.
“We knew our work made a difference,'” said William Kelllibrew, national coordinator of Black Youth Vote! (BYV!), the young adult division of The National Coalition. “This report is confirmation of the success of Black Youth Vote! Since The National Coalition started the young adult division our work has helped to inspire a new commitment to service and civic engagement among 18-24 year-olds.”
Salandra Hanna, Florida BYV! advisor adds, “In 2004 black voter participation among 18 -24 year-olds increased four percent over 2000, and in 2008 participation increased a whopping eight percent! While there is still much to do to keep this demographic engaged, this news confirms the positive trend and gives us great encouragement.”
The National Coalition’s BYV! worked in twelve states registering new voters, educating voters on their rights at the polls, and urging them to VOTE FIRST. The National Coalition credits their VOTE FIRST Campaign with reducing the problems at the polls on Election Day. Other effective outreach to young adults included partnerships with American Urban Radio Networks (AURN), fraternities and sororoties and BET. AURN produced and distributed celebrity-voiced public service announcements urging young people to vote early.
“We did the traditional outreach at events and beauty salons, but we also used new technology and enlisted the help of celebrities like rapper Bow Wow and the comedian Shang, to reach out to young voters,” said Campbell. “We also registered new voters online and used email and text messaging to contact young voters and make sure they voted early.”
“By combining old-school civic engagement tactics with new school technology we surpassed our goals. An eight percent increase in participation among 18-24 year-olds demonstrated the power of that demographic and will definitely go down in history,” said Richard Womack, Sr. chair of The National Coalition.
Founded in 1976, The National Coalition is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to increasing African American participation in civil society. The current programs of the organization include Black Women’s Roundtable and a new young adult community service initiative. For more information visit www.ncbcp.org.