Rand Paul: No Evidence of Voter Discrimination

Image: Rand Paul: No Evidence of Voter Discrimination

Thursday, 15 Aug 2013 11:39 AM

By Lisa Barron

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Republican Sen. Rand Paul says there is no evidence that African Americans are being barred from voting, and there's no need to restore provisions of the Voting Rights Act struck down in June by the Supreme Court.

Speaking in Louisville, the Kentucky senator, seen as a potential contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, said, "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," WFPL radio reported.

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"So really, I don't think there is objective evidence that we're precluding African Americans from voting any longer," Paul said.

Census figures showed that in 2012, black voter turnout was around 66 percent, compared to 64 percent among whites. Supporters of the Voting Rights Act argue those figures reflect the law's success over the last 50 years.

Many proponents claim that a new voter-ID law in North Carolina, signed Monday by Gov. Pat McCrory, is an example of legislation that would not have passed if the Voting Rights Act was intact.

The American Civil Liberties Union and NAACP have filed lawsuits alleging the law is aimed at suppressing minority voters in future elections.

Backers of voter-ID laws maintain they are necessary to prevent election fraud.

Paul told the Louisville audience that it's wrong to compare voter-ID legislation to Jim Crow laws: "I don't see a problem with showing your driver's license to vote. I also think that some people are a little bit stuck in the past when they want to compare this.

"There was a time in the South when African Americans were absolutely prohibited from voting by selective applications of bizarre and absurd literacy tests," Paul said. "And that was an abomination. That's why we needed the Voting Rights Act, but that's not showing your ID."

Paul's remarks contrast with those of another potential presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, who on Monday criticized the Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act during a speech to the American Bar Association conference in San Francisco.

Clinton pointed to the "damage" the ruling could cause in local and state districts.

"By invalidating pre-clearance, the Supreme Court has shifted the burden back onto citizens alleging discrimination," the former secretary of state said.

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