Voting Trends of West Africans in Minnesota

About one in five immigrants in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota metropolitan area was born in Africa. African immigrants accounted for 19.2 percent (57,154) of all immigrants in the Twin Cities in 2009.

An Increase in Immigration, Despite Inconsistent Assessments

Between 1990 and 2000, the number of African-born immigrants in Minnesota increased 621% (almost seven times what it was before).

Assessments of the number of immigrants are difficult, however, and vary from source to source. Ways of defining “refugees” vary, long-term-stay families are often “mixed” in terms of refugee origin, migration between states is common, “language spoken at home” is often English, and some counts classify Africans as “African-American” or “Black.”

Voter Turnout Gaps in Immigrant Communities

In Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, both of which have large West African populations, 2010 voter turnout was 43.0% and 38.4%, respectively, compared to a 52.8% turnout statewide.

This may be partly a result of lower turnout in midterm elections, in general, as opposed to presidential years; while the overall trend among all voters is for lower participation rates in non-presidential years, the gap seems to be particularly wide for immigrants and people of color.

There are an estimated 7,000 Liberian immigrants in Brooklyn Park, of which anywhere between 3,000 and 1,300 may be eligible to vote (U.S. citizens above the age of 18).