North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest condemned the NAACP's opposition to the law as 'ludicrous.'
North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who is currently running to unseat incumbent Gov. Roy Cooper (D) in the state's gubernatorial election later this year, suggested in an interview last week that those opposed to a recently blocked state voter ID law, including the state's NAACP chapter, were racist.
The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP was the lead plaintiff opposing the law in federal court. It argued that the law was discriminatory against minorities and favorable to Republican politicians.
"To suggest that people that are minorities don't know how to get an ID and don't know how to use one — I think that's far more racist than saying that this type of bill is racist," Forest said during an interview on "The Tyler Cralle Show" on Friday.
"This is ludicrous," he added.
In December, a federal judge blocked the implementation of the voter ID law in part because of the state's "sordid history of racial discrimination and voter suppression." The ruling stated that law cannot go into effect until the NAACP's lawsuit is resolved.
Forest claimed on Friday that the only reason anyone would oppose the voter ID law would be because they "stand for fraud."
Audio of the interview was first flagged by the liberal opposition research group American Bridge.
A spokesperson for the Cooper campaign responded to Forest's remarks in an email on Monday, citing the lieutenant governor's comments from a sermon last summer in which he claimed no nation "has ever survived the diversity and multiculturalism that America faces today."
"The fact that Dan Forest is so committed to voter suppression and driving people of color away from the ballot box is a direct reflection of the values on which he has built his campaign," the spokesperson said. "After all, he did suggest diversity and multiculturalism are destroying North Carolina."
Opposition to the North Carolina voter ID law was mostly focused on the fact that Republican lawmakers looked at voting behavior by race before passing the law, according to the court, and used the data to specifically target African American voters.
The court's decision was praised by North Carolina NAACP President Rev. Anthony Spearman, who called the blocked law "the latest bad-faith attempt in a string of failed efforts" by the state's General Assembly to "impede the right to vote of African Americans and Latinos in this state, and to blunt the force of the true will of the people."
There is scant evidence that voter fraud exists on any major level, or that voter ID laws would impact the extraordinarily rare cases that do occur, according to the ACLU.
One study found only 31 cases of voter fraud out of 1 billion votes cast between 2000 and 2014. To put that in perspective, it is easier to find a person struck by lightning twice than identify the type of in-person voter fraud that voter ID laws propose to stop.
Further, voter ID laws disproportionately impact minority voters. According to the ACLU, up to 25% of African American citizens lack a government-issued photo ID, compared to just 8% of whites.
Forest's own campaign has been fraught with issues of racism. In October 2019, Forest was set to share a stage with prominent anti-Muslim extremists; Robert McCaw, government affairs director for the Center on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said at the time that such a move "legitimize[d] the bigoted views espoused by the speakers."
In December 2019, Forest falsely claimed that "tens of thousands" of children in North Carolina had been attacked by migrants, an assertion that was unsupported by the state's Conference of District Attorneys, Department of Public Safety, and State Bureau of Investigation.
And in August 2019, Forest kicked off his campaign for governor by appearing with Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), who has a long history of racist comments and opposed the Voting Rights Act.
North Carolina's 2018 congressional election was notably fraught with allegations of election fraud. Several political operatives working for the GOP candidate in the state's 9th District were eventually charged with illegal ballot handling and a new election was ordered after the state elections board determined those actions had impacted the initial results.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.