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Protests Against Police Brutality Boosted Democratic Voter Registrations

People raise their fists in a moment of silence for George Floyd in St. Paul, Minn., in July.
Amanda Sabga
AFP via Getty Images
People raise their fists in a moment of silence for George Floyd in St. Paul, Minn., in July.

Democrats saw a surge in voter registrations in June as protests against racism and police brutality were launched across the country, rebounding briefly from a slump in new voter filings caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to data analyzed by TargetSmart, a Democratic political data firm, while the coronavirus has caused a precipitous drop in overall voter registrations, the number of Americans registering to vote increased significantly in June amid the ongoing social justice movement, with Democrats seeing particularly high voter registrations in key battleground states.

In the first half of June alone, 1.1 million voter registrations were filed, compared with 1.6 million registrations in all of June 2016.

Of those, some 520,069 were registered as Democrats, compared with 304,586 who registered as Republicans.

The data showed an additional 361,092 registered without party affiliation.

"We found that the surge was being driven by large increases in registration among voters under the age of 25 and people of color, two groups who will generally vote Democratic by overwhelming margins. The fact that this is consistent with the profile of the average protester reinforces the notion that the registration surge was driven by the demonstrations," TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier said.

"For Democrats this presents a clear message as to the intensity of these key voters, especially around issues related to equality and justice, and reinforces the need to present an agenda that speaks to those concerns."

In the battleground state of Michigan in June, Democratic registrations were up 25% over the same period four years ago, while voters registering as Republican fell by 20%.

Similarly in Minnesota, the number of people registering as Democrats nearly doubled to 32,000 in 2020 from 17,000 in the last presidential election year. Republican registration remained mostly flat in the state.

And in Iowa, Democrats saw a 49% increase in party registrations, as opposed to a 3.5% increase for Republicans.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alana Wise joined WAMU in September 2018 as the 2018-2020 Audion Reporting Fellow for Guns & America. Selected as one of 10 recipients nationwide of the Audion Reporting Fellowship, Alana works in the WAMU newsroom as part of a national reporting project and is spending two years focusing on the impact of guns in the Washington region.
Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.