Those familiar with voting suppression measures were abuzz recently after the New York Times featured a story suggesting that Republican Senator Rand Paul was distancing himself from his party’s efforts to pass harsh voting laws.
“Everybody’s gone completely crazy on this voter ID thing,” he told the Times. “I think it’s wrong for Republicans to go too crazy on this issue because it’s offending people.”
Passing statewide voter ID laws has become a tactic of the GOP to block voters who generally vote Democrat including minorities, individuals of color, and college students. Thus, Paul’s comments were met with praise among those advocating against these tactics. The Nation featured a story calling Paul’s comments evidence of a dramatic shift in the Republican Party’s stance on such laws.
Unfortunately, this may not be the case. After facing criticism from his fellow party members, Paul, via his PAC director, issued a statement clarifying his stance on such laws:
“Senator Paul was having a larger discussion about criminal justice reform and restoration of voting rights, two issues he has been speaking about around the country and pushing for in state and federal legislation.
“In the course of that discussion, he reiterated a point he has made before that while there may be some instances of voter fraud, it should not be a defining issue of the Republican Party, as it is an issue that is perhaps perceived in a way it is not intended. At no point did Senator Paul come out against voter ID laws. In terms of the specifics of voter ID laws, Senator Paul believes it’s up to each state to decide that type of issue.”