Black women have long been the most important voters for Democrats, and their electoral power has been crucial at the presidential level—just ask former President Barack Obama.
Democratic presidents, governors and other elected officials at various levels of government have Black women to thank for their positions and are keen to narrow in on this voting bloc come election time. We also know that, too often, Black people wait in line longer to vote than any other race of folks. That isn’t tenacity or grit; it is flat-out racism.
A recent study has quantified another fact we all knew to be true: Black women, in particular, wait in line longer to cast their ballots than other races.
An analysis by Costas Panagopoulos, a professor of political science and chair of the department of political science at Northeastern University, found that Black people were willing to wait more than three hours to vote or 197 minutes. Whites were willing to wait just under three hours or an average of 177 minutes. Asians came in third at 171 minutes and Latinx people clocked in at 146 minutes.
This research was conducted during the November 2020 presidential election and published in the Washington Post. Panagopoulos and his research team at Northeastern partnered with YouGov to conduct a survey of 1,750 Americans that explored their willingness to wait in line to vote.
Broken down by gender, Panagopoulos found that Black women were willing to wait to vote the longest at 202 minutes. Black men came in second at 191 minutes, White men at 184 minutes, Latino men at 182 minutes, White women at 170 minutes, and Latinas at 110 minutes.
Why, then, are Black men and women so willing to wait longer? It comes down to stakes, according to Panagopoulos:
To cast their ballots, some groups of voters are simply more ready to assume greater costs—at least as measured in waiting time—than others.
That willingness to wait can make the difference in who wins. Consider Georgia, which went for Joe Biden over Donald Trump by only 12,000 votes in 2020. Between 2000 and 2019, the Black eligible voter population in Georgia increased more than that of any other racial group, accounting for nearly half the state’s total electorate growth. Despite this growth, long lines at the polls routinely plague elections in Georgia, often affecting non-White voters the most.
More than 1.4 million Black Georgians voted in the 2020 presidential election, with just over half voting early, either in person or by mail. That means about 700,000 Black Georgians waited in line Nov. 3, 2020, and roughly 88 percent of them voted for Joe Biden. Even if just 2 percent of those voters encountered long lines and were willing to endure longer wait times than were other voters, it could have accounted for Biden’s margin of victory in the state.
Basically, if Black folks don’t wait those few hours to vote, they will be stuck with Republicans who will make their lives hell for years. Hours in line to vote for your preferred Democrat versus years under Republican rule. We ain’t letting anyone else decide our fate.
Keep in mind that Republicans around the country have made it harder to vote over the decades and have ratcheted up their efforts with a new slate of anti-voting bills that directly target people of color. Black people do not want to wait in line longer to prove that we care about democracy. We simply have no other choice but to go to the polls with our comfortable shoes because the laws are designed to make us wait so long that we want to leave.
This recent research proves that most of us won’t leave the line because, as they say, we all we got.