Rand Paul: No ‘objective evidence’ of racial discrimination in elections

Martha Frazier rides a bus to a "Souls to the Polls" rally in Miami, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012.
Martha Frazier rides a bus to a "Souls to the Polls" rally in Miami, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012.
J. Pat Carter/AP

Sen. Rand Paul says there is no evidence that African-Americans are being kept from the polls more than white Americans.

Paul made the remarks while speaking to the non-partisan Louisville Forum Wednesday, according to WFPL.

The Kentucky senator argued the Voting Rights Act was once justified but is no longer needed in many of the jurisdictions that were covered by Section 5 until the Supreme Court’s recent ruling.

“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 said. “So really, I don’t think there is objective evidence that we’re precluding African-Americans from voting any longer.”

Since the VRA was reauthorized in 2006, 31 proposed changes to elections were blocked by the Justice Department. And the Brennan Center noted in a recent report that ”between 1999 and 2005, 153 changes were withdrawn when DOJ asked questions about them.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made the same point in her dissent to the Supreme Court’s recent VRA ruling. “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet,” she wrote.

Two major examples come from the state Paul’s father represented in Congress. In 2012, a federal court found that Texas’ statewide redistricting plan had not only a discriminatory effect on blacks and Hispanics, but also a discriminatory intent. Lawyers opposing the plan ”have provided more evidence of discriminatory intent than we have space, or need, to address here,” a three-judge panel in that case wrote in their ruling.

A separate federal court also found that Texas’ strict voter ID law was enacted with the intent to discriminate. Since the Supreme Court ruling invalidating Section 5, Texas has said that that law will now go into effect.

And just this week, North Carolina’s Republican governor signed a photo ID law that also significantly cuts back early voting. Both provisions will have a disproportionate impact of African -Americans, who, studies show, are more likely to lack ID, and to vote early, than whites.

Rand Paul: No 'objective evidence' of racial discrimination in elections