A new study has found that a racial disparity in US mortality rates could mean that every election has hypothetically seen a million less black citizens at the polls. The paper, which was compiled by researchers at Mathematica Policy Research, the University of Michigan, Stanford, and Oxford, reveals how shorter life expectancies of African Americans correlates to peak voting age, with a substantial amount of African American deaths occurring in the 45-60 age range. 

"Age of Death by Race" (Image: Journal of Social Science & Medicine). Image 1."Age of Death by Race" (Image: Journal of Social Science & Medicine)

Assuming that those million missing voters would behave similarly to the surviving black population in terms of both turnout and partisanship, researchers say that the votes could have drastically affected election outcomes in both the Senate and the House:

Their votes wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the 2004 presidential election between George W. Bush and John Kerry. But it would have helped Democrats beat Republicans in seven close Senate elections and 11 close gubernatorial elections between 1970 and 2004. That would have handed Democrats continuous control of the Senate between 1986 and 2002—a pretty large impact.

Even more troublesome, however, is that some causes of this desparity (e.g. higher rates of pollution and less access to healthcare in primarily black neighborhoods) could be addressed by changes in public policy, which requires voting.