Will Black Voters Turnout in Ferguson?
On April 7, voters in embattled Ferguson, Missouri will have the chance to elect three new representatives to their six-member city council, but will Black people turn out to vote?
The city of Ferguson is more than 60 percent Black, but historically, the city’s government has been dominated by White people. Some blame the fact that the elections come during odd times of the year and aren’t well publicized, some have blamed the lack of Black candidates, but the over all issue has been that a large number of Ferguson residents are not registered to vote and haven’t demonstrated interest in the city’s political process.
In this latest election, of the eight candidates running, four are African-American, making this election “the most diverse campaign for the government of the majority-black city in Ferguson’s 120-year history,” according to a joint report by the Huffington Post and the St. Louis American, St. Louis’ leading black-owned newspaper.
Wrote the Huffington Post:
During the thick of the unrest over the August police killing of teenager Michael Brown, many organizations made efforts to register African-American voters. CNN reports only 204 residents registered from Aug. 11 to Oct. 8. And of the 24,334 people registered to vote in November’s election, fewer than half participated.
And the election numbers are even worse for local races, where historically less than a 10th of eligible voters turned out.
After all the turmoil surrounding the police shooting death of Michael Brown, the city is now at a crossroads. The community is still roiling in the aftermath of the Department of Justice’s report on racial discrimination within both the city and its police department. Several city officials have either stepped down or been fired from their positions as a result. There is also increasing controversy over the city’s use of heavily ticketing and fining residents to raise revenue. But will that be enough to finally spur Ferguson’s Black community to get out the vote?
Some worry that it won’t:
Adrienne Hawkins, one of four candidates in the 1st Ward, said low interest in the candidate forum over the weekend makes her worry about turnout.
“One of my fears is that the people in the community won’t come out and vote,” Hawkins said. “I think we need to have an African-American representative. The city council needs to be more reflective of the demographics of the community.”
Read more about the upcoming election in Ferguson HERE.