Excerpted from The Hill: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) late Sunday said the “biggest impediment” to U.S. voting rights was the tangle of American criminal laws needing reform.
“You know what the No. 1 thing preventing people from voting in our country is?” Paul asked during an address at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival in Austin, Texas. “It’s having a felony conviction on your record.”
Paul said scores of Americans could not vote due to non-violent felony convictions. The potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate said that status was unfair for potential voters who had reformed after their convictions.
“You have to obey the law,” Paul said. “You also have to have good policies. It’s sort of like rules of engagement.”
The senator cited mandatory minimum sentencing and felonies for non-violent narcotics crimes as instances of government overreach.
Paul added that enforcing unfair laws created tension between law enforcement and the communities they protect.
“The vast majority of police are good people but we put them in difficult situations,” he said.
Paul said he was working on legislation with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that would restore voting rights to felons who had completed their sentences for non-violent offenses. The Kentucky lawmaker also noted the immense progress on minority voting rights since the civil rights era.
“We’re doing a lot better and we have come a long way,” Paul said. “Most of the Voting Rights Act is still in place. People are voting and in many states, African American voting is higher than that of whites.” Keep reading