Ben Carson on whether Republican voting restrictions are racist: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Ben Carson doesn’t have too many thoughts or feelings about voting restrictions, arguing yesterday that they aren’t racist because we must always make sure that the “appropriate people” participate in our elections.

As Carson said, quoted by the Topeka Capital-Journal, “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.”

He added, “My question to those people who say we’re racist because we apply those standards: Are all the other countries of the world racist?”

Well, yeah. Some other countries’ voting laws are absolutely racist! And some aren’t! And none of them speak to the question of whether ours are!

Every democracy has “official requirements” for voting. In some countries, you’re required to vote. In other countries, you’re required to vote for a specific person! The point being that “official requirements” for voting vary dramatically from country to country, and each set of requirements has far-reaching consequences concerning how free and fair the country’s elections are. And guess what? A lot of those official requirements are set up in order to deliberately make it harder for ideological, economic, religious, political or ethnic minorities to exercise political power! Because as long as demographics correlate with vote choice — which is to say as long as politics exist — there will be an incentive for people establishing political institutions to set them up for their own advantage.

If any of this is somehow confusing for Carson, there are multiple subfields of political science dedicated to precisely this phenomenon.

Ben Carson, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Ben Carson, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

And with respect to the voting laws particular to Republican-controlled states, there is overwhelming evidence that GOP-sponsored restrictions on ballot access have measurable, racially-disproportionate effects — large enough to swing elections. What’s more, numerous Republican officials have been quoted as saying that these laws — ranging from ballot access to district maps — are being passed specifically to ensure Republican victories by diluting the black vote.

That Carson’s comments came in an interview with a Kansan newspaper is significant, given Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s particularly strong affinity for restricting access to the ballot. No state has chased its own shadow with respect to voter fraud more than Kansas in recent years, with Kobach purging tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls because he can, and fighting for special, unprecedented powers to prosecute claims of double-voting that other localities have declined to pursue, while ignoring what credible claims of electoral irregularities exist in his state. I’ll give you zero guesses as to why.

All this is to say that Ben Carson’s answer was a deliberately stupid deflection from the question at hand. As with his decision to downplay the Confederate flag, he’s got to signal to the measurably racist fringe of the Republican Party that he’s “one of the good ones.” That means being demonstrably not-mad about people within his own party being openly hostile towards people who look like him voting.

Not for nothing, this guy just led his first Iowa poll despite being on a break from his campaign to hawk his book.

(h/t Huffington Post)

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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14 Responses to “Ben Carson on whether Republican voting restrictions are racist: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯”

  1. Dago T says:

    picture = 1000 words

  2. smartacus says:

    As of now; it definitely looks that way.

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  4. aPEON says:

    Mostly racists here….

  5. emjayay says:

    In the UK, you can register to vote online. Polls are open 7 am to 10 pm.

    You can take your polling card with you to show who you are, but you don’t have to.

    Give your name and address to the staff inside the polling station when you arrive.

    You’ll be given a ballot paper containing a list of the people, parties or other options you can vote for.

  6. emjayay says:

    Ben Carson’s answer to pretty much all questions are deliberately stupid deflections from the question at hand.

  7. BeccaM says:

    Ben Carson doesn’t have too many thoughts or feelings–

    Could have stopped just with that.

  8. mf_roe says:

    There is Clarence Thomas, I’m afraid Michael Steele has to much self-respect and of course his dependent family, let’s say .0003% of course fraud will amplify this to .0003% lucky for us voter fraud prevention courtesy of the repugs will cleanse this to a pristine 0%.

  9. Indigo says:

    What percentage of the black vote can Carson count on?

  10. mf_roe says:

    Since the Samuel l Jackson character got killed in ‘Django Unchained’. Maybe Gentile Ben is fishing for the role of Kiss Ass Black man in the sequel.

  11. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Mr. Rogers would say, “Can you say Oreo?”

  12. John Smith says:

    Someone should ask the doctor if ‘coloreds’ are the “appropriate people” to vote.

  13. Thom Allen says:

    Dr. Hook and (His Travelling) Medicine Show.

  14. Doug105 says:


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