Voter suppression is 'great' says GOP senator who joked about lynching


Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith was caught on video saying she wants to make it harder for liberals to vote.

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican white woman running for Senate against a black man in Mississippi, told a group of college students it would be good to "make it just a little more difficult" for some people to vote in a newly released video.

Addressing what appears to be a primarily white crowd, Hyde-Smith said she was in favor of voter suppression tactics.

"There's a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who maybe we don't want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that's a great idea," she said, smiling.

Hyde-Smith is locked in a close Senate race against Democrat Mike Espy, with the two now facing each other in a Nov. 27 runoff election. Both candidates received roughly 40 percent of the vote on Nov. 6.

It is unclear what "other schools" Hyde-Smith is referring to. Mississippi is home to numerous historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and has a long history of racist voter suppression tactics.

The Clarion-Ledger points out that in Mississippi "African-American voters faced voter-suppression policies such as literacy tests and poll taxes in the past, and where some strict voting policies remain."

Hyde-Smith is already facing scrutiny for a different video where she casually joked about lynching.

"If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row," Hyde-Smith said of a supporter. In Mississippi and across the South, crowds of white spectators would often gather to watch public lynchings of black Americans. In fact, Mississippi has the highest number of known lynchings recorded in the country.

In response to the voter suppression video, the Espy campaign condemned Hyde-Smith's remarks.

"Mississippians deserve a senator who represents our best qualities, not a walking stereotype who embarrasses our state," the campaign said in a statement.

The Espy campaign noted voter suppression isn't a joke to those who fought for the right to vote, saying, "voting rights were obtained through sweat and blood, everyone should appreciate that this is not a laughing matter."

As for the Hyde-Smith campaign, they insisted "The senator absolutely is not a racist" in a statement released after the video advocating for voter suppression came to light.

Her campaign insists she was joking with students about suppressing the vote on college campuses after someone in the crowd brought up polling places located on college campuses. The campaign claims Hyde-Smith thinks polling locations on college campuses are a good idea.

However, Republicans across the country have tried to use voter suppression tactics targeted at both minority populations and college students.

Members of Congress, like Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), literally bled for the right to vote during the civil rights movement.

But for Hyde-Smith, those who fought, bled, and died for the right to vote are nothing but a punchline.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.