Report: Dems Saw Voter Registration ‘Surge’ During George Floyd Protests

Minneapolis protests for George Floyd -- Black Lives Matter -- June 11, 2020
Fibonacci Blue/Flickr

Voter registration surged during the George Floyd protests, helping Democrats increase their numbers in some of the most important 2020 swing states, according to a Tuesday NBC News report.

TargetSmart, a Democratic political data firm, found that “despite a full or partial lockdown in large swaths of the country for much of the month, voter registration began to rebound as people took to the streets to protest” the death of George Floyd.

The firm reportedly “analyzed local election officials’ registration data against their voter file and found a surge of Democratic and unaffiliated voter registrations in June, amid the large Black Lives Matter protests across the country.”

The group’s analysis found that “as COVID shut down the economy, delayed primaries and depressed turnout, voter registration tanked across the board” in March and April, according to the analysis:

In March and April of 2016, more than 4.7 million Americans registered to vote. In March and April of 2020, however, that number plummeted to 3.12 million, a 32% drop. This decline accelerated in May. In May 2016, nearly 2 million people registered and over the same period in 2020 just over 900,000 people registered, a 54% decrease.

The data firm found that the negative trend line changed dramatically in June” when people took to the streets to protest across the country: “Throughout June of 2016, 1.6 million Americans registered to vote. In 2020, 1.1 million Americans registered in the first 15 days of the month. (Because each jurisdiction updates their voter files on a separate schedule, full data for the month is not yet available.)”

TargetSmart also concluded that by “looking deeper into the data, particularly states that have updated their file with complete or near complete June data, the picture is even more favorable for Democrats.”

In Michigan, according to the analysis, “in June of 2016, 24,000 Democrats registered in the state, compared to 20,000 Republicans. In 2020, more than 30,000 Democrats registered (25% increase) while Republican registration dropped to 16,000 (20% decrease).”

The study also found that in Minnesota, “the epicenter of the protest movement, 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.”

And in Iowa, “in June of 2016, 2,673 Democrats registered while this June, 3,821 Democrats registered – a 49% increase. Meanwhile, 2,936 Republicans registered in 2016 while 3,038 registered in 2020 – a modest 3.5% increase,” according to the study.

According to NBC News, various reports from Los Angeles, California, to Kalamazoo, Michigan detailed how activists were engaging in voter registration efforts, including posting “QR codes on protest signs, so protesters could scan the code and begin the registration process on their phones.”

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