It appears community organizations across Kansas have done a great job getting African-American Kansans registered to vote, where they’ve fallen short is on getting them to polls.

A query of the Voter Action Network (VAN), a software program used by the Democratic Party to track potential voters and get them out to vote, shows fairly consistently only about half of registered African Americans in Kansas have voted in at least two of the last three elections. That query covers the 2016 presidential election, the 2014 midterm election and the 2012 presidential election.

African-American Infrequent Voters 

Location                    Wichita       Topeka      KCK        KCMO

AA registered voters 12,095       2,653     15,904      67,377

AA voters who did not 6,663      1,349      7,285       33,407

Vote in at least 2 or the

Last 3 elections% of infrequent voters (2012, 2014, & 2016)

% of infrequent voters 55.1%     50.8%    45.8%      49.6%

While participation in midterm elections is typically low, this query means, these individuals most likely didn’t vote in one of the last two presidential elections: – the 2012 Obama re-election or the 2016 Trump election. In addition, that query also includes individuals who didn’t vote in any of the past three elections.

Kevin Myles, Southeast Regional Director for the NAACP, says the NAACP is moving its focus from registering people to vote to get out the infrequent voters.

“We’ve done a great job getting folks registered, but folks are not turning out to vote,” says Myles, who trains organizations across the country on how to use VAN.

Fairly consistently across the country, Myles says there are twice as many African-American infrequent registered voters as there are African American people who are unregistered.

“If we’re to make an impact on elections, our focus has to be on getting folks to the polls,” says Myles.

In response, the Wichita Branch NAACP is using data acquired from VAN to go door-to-door to try to engage infrequent voters, speak to them about the importance of voting, help them address issues that might get in the way of their voting, and to get them to the polls on Aug. 7. They’re engaging other organizations to work with them around this issue.

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Bonita Gooch

Since 1996, Bonita has served as as Editor-in-Chief of The Community Voice newspaper. As the owner, she has guided the Wichita-based publication’s growth in reach across the state of Kansas and into...

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