During an interview with the New York Times in Memphis on Friday, Rand Paul made this comment on voter ID laws, “Everybody’s gone completely crazy on this voter ID thing. I think it’s wrong for Republicans to go too crazy on this issue because it’s offending people.” Paul made the comment prior to speaking with a group of black pastors.
For his part, Paul has supported voter ID laws and in the past has argued that it isn’t unreasonable for people to show identification at the polls, but that this should be left to the states. Well, the states are doing just that with 30 states having passed or considering passage of voter ID laws. So I’m not sure what his beef is there. In April 2013, while speaking at Howard University, Paul defended voter ID laws against allegations that they were racially motivated.
With this in mind, is Paul just pandering? Or does Paul now think voter ID laws are racially motivated? Which Republicans or, more precisely, state Republican parties does Paul think are “going crazy” over the voter ID issue? And who exactly are these voter ID laws offending? Rand Paul? Al Sharpton? The NAACP? As Deroy Murdock of NRO noted last February, the North Carolina branch of the NAACP required demonstrators participating in a demonstration against a voter ID proposal in the Tar Heel state bring their driver’s licence, passport, or other valid photo ID and keep with them at all times. So it’s O.K. for the North Carolina NAACP to require photo ID, but not the state of North Carolina.
Paul’s comments are not helpful and only reinforce the false premise that voter ID laws are racially motivated.