Sen. Rand Paul is now a disciple of the anti-voter ID movement, after the black pastors he met with on Friday showed him the way and the truth about measures that tend to decrease minority voter turnout. After meeting with the pastors, Paul shared the good news with Jeremy W. Peters of The New York Times: the GOP needs to "lay off" the whole voter ID laws thing, according to Peters. "It's offending people," Paul said. (Update: Paul's team released a statement "clarifying" his stance.)
This isn't the first time Paul has met with black pastors — it's just one element of his ongoing attempt to be the face of (successful) GOP outreach to black and Hispanic voters. And this also isn't the first time he's come out against the restrictive voter fraud laws in red states that disproportionately affect black voters (who are more likely to vote for Democrats). Last month, during a conversation with David Axelrod, a former advisor of President Obama, Paul said he was against the restrictions on early voting passed in Ohio and Wisconsin, according to The Huffington Post. Paul has also come out in favor of restoring voting rights to ex-felons.
During last month's conversation, however, he didn't come out against ID laws. "Dead people do still vote in some elections. There is still some fraud. And so we should stop that, and one way of doing it is (driver's licenses)," he said at the time. The problem is, when a political party that has a reputation for pushing policies that work against minorities, people will get offended. Thank God someone finally told Paul.
(Update Tuesday: Paul's campaign released a statement from his senior advisor, Doug Stafford:
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. In terms of the specifics of voter ID laws, Senator Paul believes it's up to each state to decide that type of issue.)