Today marks a departure for NYA from our usual research in sport. I’ve decided to devote some time to the study of voting, because I think it’s a supremely important and under-researched area.
Voting is the foundation of democracy. Both voting and democracy as a whole have been under threat in the United States. No one knows how close the nation came to the collapse of its political system in January 2021, but it was too close for the comfort of people who, like me, feel that democracy is inseparable from freedom.
In my view, the nation was saved by two factors: the coronavirus pandemic and the Black community. Without the pandemic exposing his shortcomings in the most tragic way, the incumbent president might have achieved an easy victory in the 2020 general election. Without Black voters, he still might have won despite the pandemic. Moreover, the Senate certainly would have remained in the hands of his party. Either of these outcomes would almost certainly have led to further steps along the path to authoritarianism.
This close call for our nation has left me with two strong emotions. One is the hope that the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans will not go unnoticed by history. The other is gratitude toward the Black community for, in the most piercing of ironies, saving a nation that has oppressed them for centuries. The rest of us owe them a tremendous debt.
The research that I will publish here is an attempt to repay a small portion of that debt. I will use publicly available data sources to study patterns of registration and voting, highlighting differences between communities and geographies. I will try identify the pinch points for voting and the focal points for vote suppression in the Black community. I will also post the code that I have used for the analysis in full.
My goal is to add to the evidence base that the Black community and its allies can use to correct the injustices that have been built into our democracy. Please look for the first posted research later this week.
[Photo: Pete Souza]