Rand Paul says Voter ID laws offend people
Senator Rand Paul had some surprising things to say about the effect of voter ID laws. He said that "everyone has gone crazy" over voter ID measures and that the drive to protect the ballot is "offending people."
“Everybody’s gone completely crazy on this voter ID thing,” Paul told The New York Times. “I think it’s wrong for Republicans to go too crazy on this issue because it’s offending people.”
Democrats have blasted the effort in Republican states to enact strict voter identification laws, arguing they disproportionately affect minority voters. Paul acknowledged Friday that much of the animosity surrounding the debate centers on race.
Republicans claim the laws are essential to combat voter fraud. In past comments, Paul has acknowledged fraud exists but that "Republicans may have overemphasized this. I don't know."
During an interview at the University of Chicago with David Axelrod last month, Paul said the attempt to limit early voting hours is a mistake on Republicans part but said voter identification laws continue to serve a purpose.
"Here is the point conservatives make and it is a fairly valid point," he said. "If you are in government, I could never visit you or Eric Holder or anybody else without a drivers license. Is that not a minimal standard, particularly when we say we'll give you one for free?"
Many state with voters identification laws also allow those who cannot afford one to obtain a valid government ID for free.A total of 31 states have active voter identification laws. Courts recently struck down requirement in Wisconsin and Arkansas last month. On Thursday, Pennsylvania decided against appealing a decision that struck down its voter law last year.
Paul was criticized during his first Senate election for signaling he might not have supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act, something he has backtracked from. During his time in the Senate he has continuously talked about broadening the GOP base. And he has advocated for restoring voting right to non-violent felons in his home state. He said that is the bigger issue.
“There’s 180,000 people in Kentucky who can’t vote. And I don’t know the racial breakdown, but it’s probably more black than white," he said.
Perhaps "crazy" is a poor choice of words from Paul. And his characterization of Voter ID laws as being offensive to black people si curious considering that even if it is, the reason is the way that liberals have twisted the intent of the laws, not because Voter ID laws are inherently discriminatory - so says the Supreme Court.
Should the GOP place outreach to blacks above assuring the integrity of the ballot? A poor trade, indeed. Instead of railing against "offending people," perhaps Senator Paul should undertake a voter education effort to explain why Voter ID laws are needed and how they protect the votes of all - including black Americans.
That's hardly "crazy" and is better than abandoning efforts to make the vote as fair as possible.