Race, Ethnicity and Politics

Protests, Pandemics, and Political Participation: Voter Turnout in Georgia in the 2020 Elections

Authors

Abstract

We consider how pandemic-related shifts in election administration and racial justice protest activity impacted participation in 2020 primary and general elections in Georgia. Using a comprehensive statewide voter file, including data on the self-reported race and validated turnout of over 7 million registered Georgians, we analyze the combined effect of these events on racial differences in voter turnout rates, methods, and timing. We find that despite a shift to mail balloting, Black voters were significantly more likely to vote in person during the pandemic than White Democrats. These voters were later less likely to vote by mail (or vote at all) in November. We also demonstrate that Black turnout was significantly higher in the period following racial justice protests in Georgia than it was for other groups. The results of this study indicate how election reforms and non-electoral mobilization can shape turnout disparities even among highly engaged voters.

Content

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