2020 has been a wild rollercoaster of a year. The largest race reckoning America has seen in a generation is happening in the midst of a global pandemic that is showing no signs of going away and all the while, a man sits in the White House who just can’t seem to go a day without making an embarrassing spectacle of himself. With all this going on, the American people appear to be showing more interest in the upcoming presidential race than they have in some time. In fact, a new study finds that voter registration surged this summer during nationwide Black Lives Matter protests.
NBC News reports that a new study conducted by Democratic political data firm TargetSmart found a sharp increase in voter registration, especially among Democrats and independents during the month of June.
In March, it was reported that the coronavirus pandemic had caused voter registration to plummet. But that changed after the death of George Floyd resulted in a wave of anti-racist demonstrations that got a lot of people out of the house and back on the street. The study found that while protests surged nationwide, so did voter interest.
In the first half of June, 1.1 million voters registered. By comparison, 1.5 million voters registered in the entire month of June 2016. Not all states have reported the entire month of June’s registration data, hence the partial national data.
Some of June’s registration surge likely happened at the protests: Local reports from Los Angeles, California, to Kalamazoo, Michigan, detail voter registration efforts. Some activists posted QR codes on protest signs, so protesters could scan the code and begin the registration process on their phones.
In Minnesota, the heart of the demonstrations, there was a large spike that appears to have continued into July.
“Voter registration for Democrats nearly doubled in June from 17,000 in 2016 to 32,000 in 2020. Meanwhile, Republican registration essentially flat-lined at 17,000,” TargetSmart wrote.
TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier told NBC that part of the reason for the increase in voter registration is likely due to growing dissatisfaction over how President Donald Trump has handled the pandemic.
“There’s this level of intensity, people are feeling like this situation is being very much mishandled,” Bonier said. “And if they have the opportunity to go and cast a ballot and put different people in charge, I think we’re seeing that in the voter registrations.”
According to ABC News, a poll conducted in July found that 64 percent of Americans distrust anything Trump says about the pandemic and 60 percent disapprove of how his administration is handling it.