The Republican Senator from Kentucky told WFPL News — a Louisville radio station — that there is no evidence to suggest that blacks are being purposefully barred from voting in areas where stringent voter ID laws have been initiated:
“The interesting thing about voting patterns now is in this last election African-Americans voted at a higher percentage than whites in almost every one of the states that were under the special provisions of the federal government,” he says. “So really, I don’t think there is objective evidence that we’re precluding African-Americans from voting any longer.”
Paul’s argument boils down to the fact that the percentage of black voters who turned out to vote in 2012 in places where voter ID says were adopted was higher than in previous years. Indeed, the percentage of blacks who voted outnumbered the percentage of whites (64 versus 62 percent).
I guess Paul forgot this MIT study showing that black voters had to wait an average of 23 minutes to vote while whites waited 12 minutes.
Ian Millhiser points out the other discriminatory aspects of voter ID laws that Paul casually leaves out of his assessment:
If Paul is not aware of the evidence indicating widespread efforts to prevent African Americans from voting, then he must not be looking very hard. During the 2012 election, black and Hispanic voters waited nearly twice as long to cast a ballot as white voters. In Florida, lines of up to six hours led an estimated 201,000 people to become frustrated and leave the polls. These lines existed largely because of a voter suppression bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) which reduced early voting hours in the state. After the election, top Republicans admitted that the purpose of cutting early voting was to reduce Democratic turnout. One Republican operative conceded that early voting was cut on the Sunday proceeding Election Day because “that’s a big day when the black churches organize themselves.”
Paul also happens to oppose the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which among other things bans employment discrimination and whites-only lunch counters. So, his position here shouldn’t be particularly surprising.
(Photo: Mark Taylor)