Warnock: Who, me? I've always supported voter ID

AP Photo/Ben Gray

One of the many contentious provisions in the For the People Act is the federal ban on voter ID laws that have been passed in many states. This has basically tanked the bill’s chances for drawing a single Republican vote in the Senate, but it’s also caused some moderate Democrats like King Joseph of West Virginia to shy away from it. That sentiment seems to be spreading, however, with some of the more radically liberal members coming out in favor of voter ID. You can now add newly minted Georgia Democrat Raphael Warnock to the list. His recent attempts to erase his own history are raising eyebrows, however, even in his own party. Despite his well-documented history on the subject, this week Warnock attempted to claim that he’s always been in favor of voter ID and doesn’t even know anyone who is opposed to it. (Fox News)

Senator Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., claims he has “never been opposed” to voter ID laws — but a Fox News review of Warnock’s past comments found that he has been a fierce opponent of voter ID requirements.

“I have never been opposed to voter ID,” Warnock told NBC News in an interview published Thursday. “And in fact, I don’t know anybody who is — who believes people shouldn’t have to prove that they are who they say they are. But what has happened over the years is people have played with common sense identification and put into place restrictive measures intended not to preserve the integrity of the outcome, but to select, certain group.”

Has anyone explained to Senator Warnock that there’s this thing called the internet where the videos and transcripts of public figures are kept in perpetuity? Going all the way back to 2012, Warnock gave a sermon where he denounced “unnecessary and unjustifiable voter ID laws” that are an “affront” to MLK’s legacy. In a 2015 sermon, he claimed that voter ID laws were “not about voter verification,” but voter suppression. The following year he scoffed at the need for such laws, saying it’s hard enough to get people to vote once, to say nothing of twice.

Seeing politicians try to run away from their past is nothing new, but this is a rather shocking about-face on a subject that has been party doctrine among Democrats for ages. But as you may recall, Warnock isn’t the only new arrival in the voter ID support camp. Last week, Stacey Abrams pulled the same reversal, saying that Voter ID laws were just fine, after previously decrying them as racist maneuvers by the white patriarchy or whatever.

So where are all of these radical changes of heart coming from? A hint may be found in this recent Monmouth poll, showing just how widespread the support for voter ID laws really is. It’s not a marginal issue in any sense of the word. In fact, only a tiny minority of Americans oppose voter ID. (Emphasis added)

A large majority (71%) of the public feels in-person early voting should generally be made easier. Just 16% say it should be made harder. Opinions are more divided on voting by mail – 50% say this should be made easier and 39% say it should be made harder. At the same time, fully 4 in 5 Americans (80%) support requiring voters to show photo identification in order to cast a ballot. Just 18% oppose this.

I don’t care how wide the margin of error is (it’s listed as being +/- 3.5%). If you can only manage to find 18% of the population across all party lines and demographics who are opposed to voter ID laws, you’ve got an albatross around your neck in terms of public opinion. The Democrats may finally be waking up to this reality and quietly letting their members know that it’s time to abandon ship on the issue.

Other parts of that same poll are troubling for Republicans, however. I was very disappointed to see that half of the country is in favor of federally mandated rules allowing mail-in ballots for anyone who wants them rather than reserving that option for only the elderly, the infirm, or those who will be away from home on election day. It’s also clear that the Democrats’ messaging efforts have been alarmingly effective, convincing far too many voters (50%) that “voter disenfranchisement” is a significant issue, despite there being virtually zero evidence that people can’t manage to register and cast their votes. Just as an aside, if you happen to be one of the people who fall into both of those majorities, how do you propose to enforce voter ID laws for people who vote by mail? Just saying.

There’s work to be done in educating the public on several of these topics. But at least for now, it appears that Joe Biden’s party has run up the white flag on voter ID laws. Now we need to see if they’ll be willing to gut those provisions from the For the People Act in the hopes of reaching 60 votes in the Senate.