Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) criticized Republican-led efforts to require individuals to display voter-identification before being allowed to cast a ballot in an election, telling the New York Times he thought the issue was pushing people away from the GOP.
“Everybody’s gone completely crazy on this voter ID thing,” Paul told the Times. “I think it’s wrong for Republicans to go too crazy on this issue because it’s offending people.”
The Libertarian firebrand also stressed his commitment to restoring voting rights for felons in the interview, published Friday.
“The bigger issue actually is whether you get to vote if you have a felony conviction,” he said. “There’s 180,000 people in Kentucky who can’t vote. And I don’t know the racial breakdown, but it’s probably more black than white because they’re convicted felons. And I’m for getting their right to vote back, which is a much bigger deal than showing your driver’s license.”
[sharequote align="center"]"[I] don’t know the racial breakdown, but it’s probably more black than white..."[/sharequote]
His position immediately provoked a reaction from voter-ID advocates.
What? http://t.co/qgI3l3nVt6— Mark R. Levin (@marklevinshow)May 9, 2014
At this point, I care less about who is offended by what and more concerned about preserving the integrity of the... http://t.co/JTPMR31vLc— Candace E. Salima (@CandaceSalima) May 11, 2014
Well senator Paul you have now joined the ranks of those who are the problem. Anyone against voter ID is crooked... http://t.co/gUXVjH3vIR— Dr. R. Spickard (@E6Patriot) May 11, 2014
Paul, who is widely expected to make a bid for the White House in 2016, has attempted to make inroads into urban communities. He previously spoke at the historically black Howard University and, in December, traveled to Detroit to open the Michigan Republican Party's inner-city outreach office.
“I think throughout the U.S. the Republican Party does well in the small towns and rural areas, but the large cities we haven’t been doing very well,” Paul told TheBlaze at the time. “I think it is important we establish a presence in those cities, set up offices, meet people, find out what is going on in their community and then try to come up with solutions.”
Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter