Sen. Rand Paul—you know, the Kentucky senator who opposes the Civil Rights Act's application to private business and the Fair Housing Act
—told an audience in Louisville Wednesday that he doesn't think
there is "objective evidence that we're precluding African-Americans from voting any longer."
Paul's remarks came in the wake of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's speech Monday to the American Bar Association during which she focused on voter discrimination and the Supreme Court's Shelby County v. Holder ruling in June. Said Clinton: “Now, not every obstacle is related to race, but anyone who says that racial discrimination is no longer a problem in American elections must not be paying attention."
Paul argued that the proof there are no obstacles is evident in the fact that the percentage of African Americans who turned out to cast ballots in 2012 in states that recently adopted voter ID laws was higher than previously. In fact, for the first time, the percentage of blacks who voted was higher than the percentage of whites: 64 percent versus 62 percent. Paul ignored other aspects of changes in state voter laws, however.
As Ian Millhiser at Think Progress pointed out:
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.”
An MIT study
showed that, on average, blacks had to wait 23 minutes to vote, while whites only had to wait 12 minutes.
However long they have to wait, there won't be many of them voting for Paul if he decides to run for president in 2016, as he has said he is thinking he might do. His remarks in Louisville come atop those he made at Howard University denying he had ever opposed the Civil Rights Act, despite expressions of that opposition having been taped. (He subsequently reversed himself and said in an interview that he would have voted for the act.) Then there was the neo-Confederate staff aide—the so-called "Southern Avenger" who praised John Wilkes Booth—that Paul defended.
The merciful would no doubt like to give Paul a pass by labeling his comments tone deaf. That doesn't half cover it.
Please join Daily Kos by urging Congress to save the Voting Rights Act by creating a new preclearance formula.