Voter identification laws, which are meant to deter fraud, have long been the source of controversy. Critics say they disproportionately stop the poor, minorities and the elderly from voting, which can be crucial in an election because those groups tend to vote liberal, ProPublica reported.
Despite claims that such measures are racist, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is skeptical. “I’ve made it my personal project, every time I visit a country outside the U.S. to ask what do they do to ensure the integrity of voting? There’s not one single country anywhere – first world, second world, it doesn’t matter – that doesn’t have official requirements for voting,” Carson told The Topeka Capital-Journal.
“My question to those people who say we’re racist because we apply those standards: Are all the other countries of the world racist? I don’t think so. Voting is an important thing. Obviously, you want to make sure that it’s done by the appropriate people.”
Carson’s comments came after Hillary Clinton slammed Kansas last week for planning to put incomplete voter registrations in the trash after 90 days. “We should be doing everything we can to get young people more engaged in our democracy, not putting up obstacles,” she said in a tweet.
Kris Kobach, Kansas’ Republican Secretary of State fired back by saying, “The Hillary Clinton campaign is unhappy with the fact that Kansas has the most secure election system in the country.” Kansas, along with Indiana, Georgia, Tennessee and Pennsylvania, have the toughest voter identification laws in the country and require voters to present a photo ID.
Despite Carson’s claims that voter identification laws aren’t racially motivated, academics are more skeptical. According to a 2014 study from the University of Southern California, there is strong evidence that "discriminatory intent underlies legislative support for voter identification laws,” The Washington Post reported.