Voting Rites

Black Activists Look to New Strategies, Allies to Flex Ballot Power

Indeed, the heavy attention to the black vote may be missing a larger point: the Democrats' feeble numbers among Southern whites. According to "The Black Vote in 2000," a report issued out of Washington by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, half of Gore's voting total in Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia came from African Americans. But Gore lost all three states. Ditto for his home state of Tennessee, where 35 percent of his votes came from African Americans.

Clearly, it wasn't voter apathy among blacks that killed Gore in the 2000 presidential election. But activists are worried that the Democrats' loss—despite a record turnout of African Americans—might hinder their current efforts. "If you're not a Republican, you were robbed in 2000," says Banks. "Even though there was a large turnout, many people feel like it didn't matter, because the person they voted for didn't get elected. My goal was not to have people slack off and think it's a waste of time to go out and vote. If you are breathing and you are living, you need to vote."

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