Washington, D.C. — On November 8, millions of Americans will head to the polls to vote for their elected representatives at the local, state, and national levels. While the stakes are high for everyone, they are particularly high for voters whose rights have historically been denied or scrutinized, such as communities of color that remain at high risk for being blocked from the polls due to voter suppression.
At least 30 percent of eligible voters heading to the polls this November are people of color, which includes black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian/other people (as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey categories and available data). Voters in the 2016 election are projected to be the most ethnically diverse electorate in history, with nearly 1 in 3 eligible voters predicted to be Latino, black, Asian, or another racial or ethnic minority group.
This year, women of color are expected to make up about 16.4 percent of eligible voters, and they will soon make up the majority of America’s female population. Past elections indicate that this voting bloc is poised to play a significant role in the results of the 2016 presidential election. However, despite the increased political engagement of women of color, they are still widely underrepresented in political office, corporate leadership, and the judiciary, and they are still marginalized in the economy, despite high workforce participation.
Today, CAP released three products highlighting the importance of women of color’s leadership, why it is critical for women of color to vote, why we must keep a vigilant eye on voter suppression issues, and and how policymakers can take steps to increase leadership opportunities for women of color and create policies responsive to their needs. According to CAP experts, this disconnect between participation and representation translates into the voices and needs of women of color being largely unheeded in policymaking. As a result, policies are ultimately unresponsive to their needs and often hinder their success.
“Removing barriers for women of color to fully maximize their consumer, brain, and voting power is the only way to ensure that they become decision-makers and political and business leaders,” said CAP’s Director of Progress 2050 Danyelle Solomon. “Otherwise, traditional forms of power will remain in place, and representation will continue not to reflect changing demographics.”
“Policymakers have both an opportunity and an obligation to listen to the voices of black women, respond to their needs, and take steps to ensure access to greater leadership opportunities,” said CAP Senior Fellow Jocelyn Frye. “They must push for policies that remove barriers to leadership and success in public life and give priority to policies that establish paid family and medical leave and paid sick leave; that expand access to quality child care and education; that raise the minimum wage and close the wage gap; that strengthen anti-discrimination laws based on race, sex, or pregnancy; and that correct the draconian criminal justice policies of the past.”
“The candidates elected in November will have the power to either prioritize gender equality or reverse the gains won through decades of tireless advocacy,” said CAP Campaign Manager for Legal Progress Anisha Singh. “It is imperative that voters consider every candidate’s record on women’s issues and their proposed policies to improve women’s lives.”
“Black women are a vital component of the future success of this country,” said CAP Vice President for Legal Progress Michele Jawando. “They lead the nation in voting, they lead their communities and social movements, they are a major presence in the labor force, and they provide for their families. Policymakers who ignore the needs and voices of black women—or pass laws that disproportionately cause them harm—perpetuate or worsen the structural barriers that disproportionately imperil their economic security and prevent them from occupying leadership roles in public office.”
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For more information or to speak to an expert on this topic, please contact Tanya Arditi at email@example.com or 202.741.6258.