As new voter ID laws take effect across the county, U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is maintaining his position that asking voters to produce identification before casting their ballot has no racial overtones. Paul told WKU Public Radio that voter ID provisions are needed to combat voter fraud and not doing so is a disservice to those who fought for the right to vote.
"Forty, 50 years ago when people were fighting for the right to vote, there were people beaten with clubs, there were people who fought for the Voting Rights Act, and at that time, African Americans weren't voting and weren't allowed to vote," said the Bowling Green Republican.
More states are enacting voter ID laws since the U.S. Supreme Court in June gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that gave the federal government oversight of states with a history of voter discrimination. Sen. Paul says he hasn't seen any evidence that minorities are facing obstacles in voting. In fact, he says in the last election, African Americans voted at a higher percentage than White Americans in states that were under special provisions of the federal government.
His comments come as he urges the GOP to do more to attract minorities, and as opponents of the Supreme Court's decision on the Voting Rights Act point to various voter ID laws they say are designed to discourage election day turnout in minority communities.
The U.S. Justice Department recently sued the state of Texas over the constitutionality of its voter ID laws.
Sen. Paul, meanwhile, is courting voters in South Carolina Monday. He's attending a political picnic hosted by Republican Congressman Jeff Duncan. Paul is making a return trip to the early primary state as he considers a White House run in 2016.