Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign deliberately tried to deter 3.5 million Black Americans from voting, according to a new investigation.
The campaign disproportionately flagged African American voters with the label ‘Deterrence’ in their database of people they wanted to stay home on election day, according to Britain’s Channel 4 News.
That data was reportedly then used by Mr Trump’s digital campaign team in 16 battleground states to target those voters on Facebook with negative ads about Ms Clinton, which misstated her record on racial issues.
The revelation came after Channel 4 News says it received a huge cache of leaked data on nearly 200 million voters used by the Trump campaign.
The Trump campaign spent $44m on Facebook ads in 2016 placing six million highly targeted messages into the feeds of voters.
“Analysis by Channel 4 News shows Black Americans, historically a community targeted with voter suppression tactics, were disproportionately marked “Deterrence” by the 2016 campaign,” Channel 4 claimed.
“In total, 3.5 million Black Americans were marked “Deterrence”.”
Their report states that 61 per cent of the “Deterrence” category in the state of Georgia were Black Americans, while 46 per cent of those in the category for North Carolina were also Black.
Overall, Channel 4 claims “Black, Hispanic, Asian and ‘Other’ groups made up 54 per cent of the ‘Deterrence’ category.”
🚨🚨Tonight at 7pm:🚨🚨
EXCLUSIVE: Channel 4 News investigation reveals a huge Trump campaign data leak, exposing how 3.5 million Black Americans were listed as ‘Deterrence’ - to try to stop them voting in 2016.#DeterringDemocracy pic.twitter.com/wkxKfbynu6
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) September 28, 2020
Political observers say that the 2016 election saw the first drop in Black voter turnout in 20 years and saw Mr Trump win surprise victories in states like Wisconsin and Michigan by slender margins.
Mr Trump won the White House while losing the popular vote to Ms Clinton and his campaign has denied targeting Black Americans.
Jamal Watkins, vice president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) called the report troubling.
“The thing that’s shocking slash troubling about this is that there’s this category of suppression.
“That ‘Deterrence’ part. So, we use data, similar to voter file data, but it’s to motivate, persuade and encourage folks to participate.
“We don’t use the data to say who can we deter and keep at home. That just seems, fundamentally, it’s a shift from the notion of democracy.
“It’s not “may the best candidate win” at that point it’s “may the best well-funded machine suppress voters and keep them at home thereby rigging the election so that someone can win”.”
The Independent has asked Mr Trump’s campaign for a response but at the time of publishing had not received one.