A new study from personal finance and economics website WalletHub places South Carolina third overall in the level of engagement it sees from African-American voters, making the Palmetto State the most engaged among reliably red states.
While the study found that African-American voters were noticeably more engaged in states that went blue in the 2016 presidential election, black voter engagement here ranked higher than any traditionally blue state.
But it also ranks the state low on how easy it is for black voters to get to the polls at all.
According to WalletHub, South Carolina’s voter ID requirements place larger burdens on the state’s African-American voters. The state requires all voters to present a photo ID at the polls. That could include a driver's license, a state-issued card, a passport, a military ID, or a voter registration card with a photo on it.
Critics say the requirement to show a photo ID works against black residents. A 2018 report from The State newspaper found that criticism to be only moderately true. Nevertheless, WalletHub ranked South Carolina 32nd (out of 49 states surveryed) in ease of voter eligibility.
Black voters, who make up nearly a third of South Carolina's voting public, are a key to this weekend’s Democratic presidential primary. Former Vice President Joe Biden scores high among the state’s African-American voters, and last week’s Winthrop University poll has Biden leading the pack of candidates on Saturday’s ballot. He has an especially large lead among black voters.