Republican Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (pictured) turned heads on Wednesday, when he stated that African-American voters are not disenfranchised from participating in the electoral process. Sen. Paul then went one step further by stating that there isn’t any evidence that suggests Blacks are barred from voting any more than Whites.
Speaking at the Louisville Forum, Sen. Paul mentioned that the historic Voting Rights Act was placed into law for sound reasons and that the federal government should still oversee the violation of individual voting rights, reports WFPL.
But according to Sen. Paul, African Americans are clearly no longer 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. So really, I don’t think there is objective evidence that we’re precluding African Americans from voting any longer.
And while census numbers back up the senator’s statement, with Blacks voting at 66 percent when compared to 64 percent for Whites, it also must be noted that one of the chief catalysts of African-American voter turnout in 2012 was voter suppression.
With Republican lawmakers pushing last-minute voter ID laws to seemingly stifle the Black vote, African Americans showed up at the polls in unprecedented numbers.
As NewsOne previously reported about the state of Ohio, for example:
Romney won the White vote 58-41 (2008: John McCain won 52-46). Romney won White men 63-36 (2008: McCain won 53-45). Romney won White women at about the same margin as four years ago, 53-46. But the White vote overall was 79 percent of the turnout, down 4 points from 2008 (White men: 3 points; White women: 1 point). The Ohio population is about 84 percent white. Ohio has a low percentage of Hispanic population (3 percent) compared to the national average (17%) and the exit polling had the Hispanic vote at 3 percent, a 1-point decrease from 2008.
Obama made up the margin by turning out the African-American vote, which increased from 11 percent in 2008 to 15 percent yesterday. He won these voters 96-4 and the higher turnout more than made up for any slight movement from his 2008 97-2 margin. What’s more notable, African Americans make up 12 percent of the Ohio population, but they represented a higher share of the electorate yesterday.
In addition, Republican-dominant state legislatures have been rushing to get new Voter ID and other voting law adjustments passed into law ahead of critical election cycles in 2014 and 2016.
And with the High Court taking away the Justice Department’s ability to approve these sweeping changes to voting rights, critics of the new voting laws allege this is nothing more than another attempt to undermine and disrupt the Black vote.
In North Carolina, for example, a controversial new bill has been passed and a vicious fight between the state and several leaders, including the NAACP, has been brewing for months.
On Monday, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in San Francisco at the American Bar Association conference that racial discrimination is still an issue that mars American elections.
Sen. Paul’s words seemed to be a counterattack to Clinton’s, and both individuals are potential candidates for the 2016 presidency.
Republican leaders claim the Voter ID laws are in place to prevent fraud and the like, but evidence points to this contention being scarce at best.
Still, according to a Washington Post poll, more than 63 percent of Black voters felt voter suppression is an ongoing issue when compared to 34 percent of White voters.