Vice President Joe Biden, in slamming voter identification laws, questioned whether he and President Barack Obama would have been reelected in 2012 had there been more strict voter ID laws in Florida.
Vice President Joe Biden speaks on voting rights at the NAACP annual convention Wednesday, July 23, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher) AP Photo/John Locher
“Imagine what would have happened if these laws had been in place in Florida in 2012,” Biden said Wednesday at the NAACP National Convention in Las Vegas. “Let me give you an example how the concrete impact. It's not about Barack and me. It's about the people's right to speak.”
He went on to remark about how close the contest for Florida's 29 electoral votes was.
“President Obama and I won the state of Florida by 73,000 votes,” Biden said. “In Florida, we won the African American vote by a margin of 1,125,000. Here's what that means, I want you to think about this, so you don't think I'm just reliving old fights of the past. That means if only 6 percent of those African American voters who voted were prevented from casting their ballots because of changes in the polling place, requirements for IDs etc..., if only 6 percent had not voted, we would have lost Florida.”
Democrats Obama and Biden won the presidential race with 332 electoral votes to Republican Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan's 206 electoral votes. Had Florida flipped, Obama would have still won 303 to Romney's 235. Biden admitted he didn't know for certain if it would affect the outcome.
“I haven't done the math and the calculations in all the other states,” Biden said. “But the election could have turned out to be a different result than it was. It's not about Barack and me. It's about the right of the American people to chose who they want to be their leaders.”
Biden said that there have been 83 proposals in 29 state legislatures for what he characterized as restricting the right to vote. Advocates of voter ID laws say the laws say it prevents voter fraud.
“If you'll excuse the comparison, it's not nearly as dramatic, but just as the murders in Philadelphia, Mississippi, awakened all good thinking white Americans all across America what was happening. We have got to awaken the country,” Biden said.
“Right now when I go around the country, I hear folks say, why doesn't it make sense just to show an ID. For 95 percent of them it's not a hard thing to do,” Biden added. “They have a drivers license. They are mobile. They're in good shape. It doesn't seem like a restriction. And when it's cloaked in name of corruption, people are prepared to think it's benign.”
But Biden went on to give the example of a 93-year-old woman who was unable to get an ID.
Florida has a non-strict voter ID law, which allows some voters without ID to have their vote counted on election day, and sign a sworn statement. In strict states, someone without the proper ID must cast a provisional ballot and then return within a certain time period to provide further proof of identity.
Follow Fred Lucas (@FredVLucas3) on Twitter