In examining recent figures tabulated by the United States Elections Project at the University of Florida, so far 135,228,196 total ballots have been officially counted and tallied in the 2016 election.
Out of that number, exit polls have determined that 3 percent of them were submitted by Black millennial voters, for an estimated total of 4,056,846 ballots.
Among all eligible Black millennial voters, only about 35 percent of them had their ballots counted in 2016, figures show.
The Tribune defined “Black millennials” as African-American eligible voters between the ages of 18-29. This is a combination of U.S. citizens who describe themselves as Black or Black and a combination of another racial demographic. It also includes both registered Black voters and non-registered Black citizens.
The Tribune found similar data for 2012, where there were a total of 130,292,355 ballots counted nationwide (in proportion to the population four years ago, turnout was still slightly higher that cycle than the current one). Out of that ballot count, again only 3 percent were from Black voters between the ages of 18 to 29 — for an estimated total of 3,908,771.
At that time, according to 2007 U.S. Census surveys, 11.1 million residents were “Black millennials,” which means only 35.2 percent of voting age eligible Black millennials had ballots counted in 2012.
However, the number of Black millennial ballots that were counted in 2008 – a year of record overall voter turnout in the U.S. – was 5 percentage points more than in 2012 or 2016.
Out of 132,609,063 ballots cast, 3 percent were Black millennials between the ages of 18-29. That amounted to 3,978,272 or an estimated 40 percent of all Black millennials (who, at the time, accounted for roughly 9.8 million residents of the overall Black population).
Still, Black millennial ballots counted is still lower than overall 18-29 turnout numbers when considering data released by Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE).
Recently, CIRCLE found 18-29 turnout was just 50 percent in 2016, compared to only 49 percent in 2012 and a record 52 percent in 2008.
“Overall, we find that the millennial voter turnout has decreased for the 2008-2016 election cycles,” said Khadijah Lake, a senior data analyst for B|E Strategy, a Washington, D.C.-based communications and research firm that conducted the study in conjunction with The Tribune. “While the decrease in the 2012 and 2016 election cycles is approximately two tenths of a percentage point, we must acknowledge the fact that this data is accounting for first time voters who ultimately compensated for a fraction of eligible voters within this age group who, for the most part, decided not to cast a ballot.
“We find that there are going to be discrepancies with this kind of voting data because we need to first define what the millennial generation is,” she said. “For all intensive purposes, I believe it would be best to define the millennial generation as 18-29. This will be more representative of the millennial population and will do a better job of explaining the voter turnout for young people.”
In addition, the Tribune is only considering “ballots counted” in its exercise since there is still much discussion and uncertainty surrounding the impact of voter suppression laws, voting machine malfunctions and long polling place lines disproportionately impacting metropolitan centers with large concentrations of Black voters.
According to media and marketing data analytics firm Nielsen, which frequently examines consumer trends, roughly 25 percent of the total Black population is “Black Millennial” – which totals 11.6 million Black residents throughout the nation that are between the ages of 18-29.
Since these are residents from the age of 18 on up, it’s assumed most are legally eligible to vote – with the exception of residents who are not due to felony disenfranchisement, a problem that disproportionately impacts Black Millennials.