Rand Paul: No "objective evidence" black people are disenfranchised

"Last election African-Americans voted at a higher percentage than whites in almost every one of the states"

Published August 15, 2013 1:28PM (EDT)

Sen. Rand Paul dismissed concerns about Voter ID laws and the need to revive the Voting Rights Act, because he said there is no “objective evidence” that minorities are still disenfranchised at the polls.

"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," Paul, R-Ky., told the Louisville Forum, according to WFPL. "So really, I don't think there is objective evidence that we're precluding African-Americans from voting any longer."

He continued that Voter ID laws are nothing like Jim Crow laws, and those that make the comparison are "a little bit stuck in the past."

"I don't see a problem with showing your driver's license to vote," Paul said. "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. And that was an abomination, that's why we needed the Voting Rights Act, but that's not showing your ID."

In June, the Supreme Court struck down the part of the Voting Rights Act that determines which areas of the country are required to get preclearance from the Department of Justice before making changes to voting laws. Since then, states have jumped at the chance to pass new Voter ID laws.

Paul has a shaky history when it comes to discussing race. Recently, he stood by a staffer who had previously expressed pro-confederate views -- though the staffer eventually resigned. And during his campaign in 2010, Paul said he would not have supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but later backtracked.

By Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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Disenfranchisement Kentucky Minorities Racism Rand Paul Voter Id