Research suggests many Black Utah residents are unable to vote. But why?

ST. GEORGE — Black Americans account for 14% of eligible voters in the U.S., a figure which has slowly risen over the year. But Utah is home to one of the smallest percentages of people who identify as Black, coming in at just over 2%.

The Black demographic is Utah’s fastest-growing racial group, according to the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah.

Nationally, Black voters remain overwhelmingly Democratic, but in the latest contest, President Joe Biden’s edge over former President Donald Trump is changing.

Rashawn Ray, senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, said Black voters are not a monolith and they do turn out to vote, with 2024 set to be no exception.

“Oftentimes, they are choosing between ‘the lesser of two evils,’ because we have an overly simplistic two-party system,” Ray said. “The other part of this, there are some people who rather stay at home than vote for someone who they don’t think aligns with their particular politics and their cultural values.”

June calendar shows important dates as the primary nears on June 25, 2024 | Image courtesy of, St. George News | Click to enlarge

Ray pointed out the narrative Black people do not vote is simply untrue. For Utah, the story is a bit different. The state has one of the lowest shares of Black Americans who are eligible to vote, with fewer than 6 in 10, according to Pew Research Center. Utah’s Black population also includes a higher share of individuals born outside the U.S. — about 30% — compared to 11% nationally.

Click here for voter registration information in Utah.

Ashley C.J. Daniels, project director of Black Girls Vote, called Black women a powerhouse behind Democratic Party wins, saying political engagement has increased especially since 2020. She added researchers know there is what she called an “enthusiasm gap” for the 2024 election.

“Looking at some of the data, you have numerous reasons why there is an enthusiasm gap,” Daniels said. “You have some Black folks that are concerned about the ceasefire that is going in Gaza, and you have some Black folks that are concerned about reproductive justice. You have others that are concerned about economics, so, there’s, like, a variance.”

Daniels added it is important for politicians to understand the Black vote is more complex than was previously considered. Black voters hold a range of ideologies, including conservative views, accounting for about 10% consistently voting for Republican candidates.

Read the original story here.

Written by ALEX GONZALEZ, Producer, Utah News Connection.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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