Where does the Republican Party stand on voter ID?

This story has been updated.

In an interview with a New York Times reporter on Friday, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said, “Everybody’s gone completely crazy on this voter ID thing. I think it’s wrong for Republicans to go too crazy on this issue because it’s offending people.”

The statement seemed very much in line with Paul's past statements about how the Republican Party needs to expand its base and interests if it wants to win elections -- he has also been a vocal advocate of expanding voting rights for felons, and has been against mandatory minimums for drug possession that disproportionately affect minorities and low-income Americans.

However, it wasn't in line with most of his party's thinking on voter-ID legislation -- as Paul's exasperation shows.

In the past, Paul has even expressed skepticism that Republican legislation was depressing minority turnout. In 2013, he said, "I don't think there is objective evidence that we're precluding African-Americans from voting any longer." During a speech at Howard University last year, he said, “But showing your driver’s license to have an honest election I think is not unreasonable. And I think that’s the main thing that Republicans have been for.”

Here's a reminder of which Republicans have broken with the party on this issue, what Republicans who have been leading proponents of voter ID say in favor of it and which Republicans are, in some cases a bit surprisingly, pro-voter ID.

Update, 5:30 p.m. In a statement late Monday, Paul’s senior advisor issued this statement clarifying the comments, saying "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.”


Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) addresses attendees during the Republican National Committee spring meeting at the Peabody hotel in Memphis, Tenn., on Friday, May 9, 2014. Paul urged members to rethink policies on national security and drug prosecutions (AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, William DeShazer)

Anti-Voter ID

Michael Steele: In March 2013, the former Republican National Committee chair said on MSNBC, "How does [RNC chair] Reince Priebus reconcile his approach and his agreement with voter registration policies that many in the black community view as anti-black, racist, whatever the term happens to be. You've got to reconcile how people feel about your policies, not just the fact that you're going to show up. You can show up any time. It's what you say and what you do when you get there that matters most to people."  At a forum held by The Atlantic in November 2012, Steele said, "The Republican effort was not a concerted grand cabal to go out and suppress the vote. but it was highly stupid. It was made up of a lot of ham-handed actions by legislators who were trying to seize a political moment. Number one, you don't do it in a political year. You want to change the voting process, you do it from out years, not including the election cycle you are in. It adds some legitimacy to your effort. When a voter, however ill-informed or wise they may be in their understanding of the facts before them, if they feel put upon, if they feel suppressed, change your act."

Colin Powell: At an annual CEO forum in Raleigh, N.C. last year, the former secretary of state said that voter-ID laws -- like the one in North Carolina -- "immediately turns off a voting bloc the Republican Party needs,” Powell continued in his keynote speech. “These kinds of actions do not build on the base. It just turns people away.” He reiterated that point in an interview with Bob Scheiffer, saying, "You need a photo ID. Well, you didn't need a photo ID for decades before. Is it really necessary now? And they claim that there's widespread abuse and voter fraud, but nothing documents, nothing substantiates that. There isn't widespread abuse. These kind of procedures that are being put in place to slow the process down and make it likely that fewer Hispanics and African Americans might vote, I think, are going to backfire, because these people are going to come out and do what they have to do in order to vote, and I encourage that."

Jon Husted: The Ohio secretary of state has received backlash from voting rights groups for his approach to election administration, but he has been consistently against voter-ID laws -- a measure the state legislature has been trying to enact for some time. He told NPR in 2011, "Frankly, both sides need to tone it down" and "I don't believe you need to have a photo ID to provide for voter security."

Dale Schultz: The Wisconsin state senator -- who recently announced he is retiring -- originally voted for the state's voter-ID legislation, but no longer supports it. He told the Capital Times in March, “In the spirit of the champion of the 1957 Voting Rights Act, I have been trying to send a message that we are not encouraging voting, we are not making voting easier in any way, shape or form with these bills. Back in 1957 with the leadership of Dwight Eisenhower, Republicans were doing that. And that makes me sad, frankly.” He is no longer in favor of any of the election legislation his party has been sponsoring around the country. “I am not willing to defend them anymore. I’m just not and I’m embarrassed by this.”

Pro-Voter ID

Tim Scott: The Washington Times asked the South Carolina senator -- then a member of the House -- about the American Legislative Exchange Council's support of voter ID laws in 2012. Scott responded, “You can’t get on a plane without showing who you are. You can’t cash a check without showing who you are. So why shouldn’t you have to show who you are when you vote? I don’t really get the whole deal.”

When the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act last year, Scott told a local South Carolina newspaper, “We are a nation that demands fairness and accountability. Is there a formula from the 1970s that helps us find that today? I don't believe so. We should strive to ensure that all Americans have access to opportunity and equal protection under the law. But punishing six Southern states because of past failures does not help us in the present and certainly does not help find our path to the future. All states should be treated equally, and today's decision provides for that opportunity.”

Scott opposed the nomination of Thomas Perez as secretary of labor, saying in a statement, "When I look at the non-partisan Inspector General report and the way in which Mr. Perez has pursued policies singling out certain conservative states and industries, I simply cannot support his nomination. The Voting Section’s decision to override career DOJ staff to block the implementation of my home state of South Carolina’s voter ID law is a prime example of this trend. Only after South Carolina spent more than $3.5 million suing the DOJ in federal court did our law take effect. Yet, even on the heels of defeat in federal court, Mr. Perez was still dissatisfied and decided to send DOJ officials down to monitor a special municipal election in Branchville, S.C. – a town with a voting population of 800 and where fewer than 200 people voted in the special municipal election."

Marco Rubio: The Florida senator was asked about voter ID when campaigning with Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential election. He responded, "What's the big deal? What is the big deal?"

Ted Cruz: The Texas senator tried to add a voter-ID amendment to the immigration reform bill being considered last year.

Jim Sensenbrenner: The Wisconsin representative has been a long supporter of the Voting Rights Act. However, he also likes voter-ID laws. In an op-ed this March, he wrote, "I bristle when people on the right or left suggest there is a conflict between my support for the Voting Rights Act and voter ID laws. The former is possibly the most important civil rights legislation ever passed, and the latter is a useful tool to prevent fraud." When the Department of Justice filed a suit against Texas' voter-ID law last year, he released a statement that said, "I regret that the Department of Justice announced its intent to file a lawsuit against Texas’ Voter ID law citing Section 2 to the Voting Rights Act.  The Texas legislature passed Voter ID, and Governor Perry signed this legislation into law in 2011. Voter ID laws are an essential element in protecting the integrity of our electoral process and do not have a discriminatory intent or effect."

Scott Walker: The Wisconsin governor signed the state's voter ID bill in 2011, and said last month that the state would appeal the federal court decision striking it down.

Mike Huckabee: The former Arkansas governor told the crowd at an Americans for Prosperity conference last month that sometimes he thinks the United States has less freedom than North Korea. "When I go to the airport, I have to get in the surrender position. People put hands all over me. And I have to provide photo ID in a couple of different forms and prove that I really am not going to terrorize the airplane. But if I want to go vote, I don't need a thing."

Etc.

Rick Santorum: It's not voter ID, but the former Pennsylvania senator has spoken in favor of expanding voting rights for felons. During the 2012 presidential campaign, he attacked Mitt Romney during a debate for not feeling the same way: "I'm asking you to answer the question...this is Martin Luther King Day. This is a huge deal in the African-American community because we have a very high rates of incarceration, disproportionately higher rates, particularly with drug crimes in the African-American community. The bill I voted for is the Martin Luther King voting rights bill."

John Kasich: In 2011, the Ohio governor evaded directly answering a question about where he stands on voter ID legislation, which the state legislature has considered many times.

Correction: Jim Sensenbrenner was listed in an earlier version of this article as a West Virginia senator -- he is a Wisconsin representative. 

Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.
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