Earlier this week, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) absurdly claimed that “no Democrat has never been against voter I.D.”
It was a head-scratching comment, considering how many times Democrats have claimed Republicans are racist for including voter I.D. requirements in election reform bills, but Clyburn was adamant.
“I don’t know why you guys keep misrepresenting what I said,” Clyburn told Fox News host Neil Cavuto on Tuesday. “I have never said that you should not have voter ID. When I got my voter registration cards, I keep them in my wallet. And when I go to vote, I presented that every time. And I said to them, I am Jim Clyburn, this is my ID, and I want to vote. I have always had voter ID. And that’s why the representative earlier who voted … no Democrat has never been against voter ID.”
Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler began his column, which ultimately awarded Clyburn four pinocchios (the most one can be awarded for telling a lie), by saying the comments, on their face, seemed “absurd.”
And it was. Clyburn previously compared South Carolina’s voter I.D. law to Jim Crow laws, even though it allowed residents to use a driver’s license, an I.D. issued by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, a passport, or a federal military I.D. in order to vote. The South Carolina law also allowed anyone without a photo I.D. to cast a provisional ballot if they signed an affidavit explaining why they could not obtain a photo I.D.
As Kessler noted, McClatchy News reported in 2012 that Clyburn compared South Carolina’s law with “post-Reconstruction Jim Crow laws that Southern states enacted, imposing poll taxes, literacy tests and other hurdles to prevent blacks from voting.”
Clyburn has issued similar statements in the decade since. In 2019, for example, he posted a video on Twitter with the caption: “55 years ago, the 24th Amendment was ratified, eliminating poll taxes. Yet we are still seeing evidence of poll taxes today in the form of voter ID laws. In a democracy such as ours, we must not have any impediments to voting.”
Clyburn in the video said requiring people to purchase an I.D. amounted to a poll tax, even though the South Carolina law – which Clyburn also said was a poll tax – provided free identification.
Clyburn’s communications team claimed that Clyburn’s beef is with voter I.D. laws that allow some forms of I.D. but not others, particularly when certain types of I.D. might indicate a certain type of voter. The team said it wasn’t fair to allow hunting licenses but not student I.D. cards, for example. This did not sway Kessler:
Clyburn is trying to have his cake and eat it, too. He routinely decries “voter ID” laws, but at the same time he insisted on Fox News that he has never opposed such laws — and that every Democrat has supported them. In reality, he appears to be against many types of voter ID laws — ones that require photos, or a fee for a photo or which favor one voting group over another.
In other words, he’s playing word games. He supposedly is for voter identification but against most of the voter ID laws being adopted by states. Perhaps his contradictory response may be related to the broad support photo ID requirements have in public polling. He appears to want people to think he agrees with the majority even when he is fighting against such laws.
“You cannot claim one day that voter ID is a new kind of poll tax and then, on another day, say every Democrat is for voter ID,” Kessler concluded, before awarding Clyburn four pinocchios.
The switch appears to come after polling repeatedly shows a large majority of Americans – even Democrats – support requiring people to show an I.D. to vote. It’s also the latest example of Democrats trying to gaslight the American people. A week earlier, the Post’s fact checker gave White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki three pinocchios for absurdly claiming that it was Republicans, not Democrats, have been working to “defund the police,” despite a year of Democrats calling for defunding and Democrat-controlled cities following through on the threat.