Commentary

Rand Paul disagrees with NC GOP leaders on voter suppression; calls it a “dumb idea”

Sen. Rand Paul - Photo: Facebook

Sen. Rand Paul – Photo: Facebook

North Carolina’s Governor and state legislative leaders have indicated that they will appeal today’s Fourth Circuit ruling that enjoined two key voter suppression provisions that they helped enact in the 2013 “monster voting law.” Interestingly, however, this position runs directly contrary to several strong statements by one of the nation’s most prominent GOP presidential contenders, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

As MSNBC reported yesterday:

Backed by the Supreme Court, Republicans are looking to crack down on early voting. But one of the party’s potential 2016 front-runners doesn’t sound like he’s on board.

“I think it’s a dumb idea to spend a lot of time on Republicans trying to change early voting,” Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told the Associated Press in an interview published Tuesday. “My position is I want more people to vote, not less.”

Late Monday, the Supreme Court ordered that Republican-backed cuts to early voting will go into effect for this year’s election, despite a ruling by a federal judge that they’re racially discriminatory. The GOP also has cut early voting in North Carolina and in Wisconsin, among other states.

In the AP interview, Paul also acknowledged that many African-Americans think the GOP is trying to make it harder for them to vote.

“I’ve cautioned Republicans, ‘You need to be aware of peoples’ perceptions,’” he said. “If the perception is out there, why don’t you start talking about something good, like restoring peoples’ right to vote?”

Paul’s comments continue his cautious efforts to distance himself from his party on the issue of access to the ballot. Earlier this year, he warned that it would be a mistake for the GOP to go “too crazy” in pushing voter ID, because “it’s offending people.”

That, of course, would be the same Rand Paul who was in the state today to endorse one of those state GOP leaders — Speaker Thom Tillis — for the Senate (and who previously endorsed Tillis’ opponent Greg Brannon in the May primary).

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