Bashir and Sharpton Argue There's Racist Motivations Behind New Voter I.D. Laws

Joining a daylong drumbeat of hourly segments to hype colleague Al Sharpton's latest project, MSNBC's Martin Bashir pushed on viewers of his 3 p.m. program today that Republicans are trying to suppress if not downright disenfranchise minority voters across the nation.

Bashir opened up the Sharpton "interview" by rhetorically asking if “there is a deliberate attempt at voter suppression being undertaken by the right today?”  To no surprise, Sharpton knocked the softball over the far-left field fence. Sharpton claimed that with less than one percent of prosecutions on voter fraud in the last decade, "one has to conclude it's a deliberate attempt to try and suppress our votes in particularly minority communities that are disproportionately impacted, seniors and students."  [See video below.  MP3 audio here.]

Sharpton is no stranger to making extreme comments, and his favorite standby seems to be accusing Republicans of being racist.  Bashir plays right into the Sharpton conspiracy theory suggesting that, “Could it have anything, perhaps sir, to do with the fact that African-Americans have tended to vote in large proportions for this president?”  To no surprise, the left-wing activist-cum-MSNBC anchor agreed with the phony and disgusting assertion made by Bashir and went on to claim that the recent voter ID laws are "clearly the most frontal attack on the voting rights act we’ve seen in 47 years."

For his part, Bashir failed to balance out the interview with a proponent of voter ID laws, like say, that far-right-wing wacko Jimmy Carter.

That's right, the 39th president has defended voter ID laws. True, Carter would like to see states take measures to slowly implement voter ID laws over time and to offer free ID cards to poor residents -- a step that some states like South Carolina and Georgia already do.

Indeed, South Carolina has even ferried prospective voters to the DMV to get free state-issued ID cards.

Below is the relevant transcript. 

Martin Bashir
03/05/2012
3:23 p.m.  

MARTIN BASHIR: It's been 47 years since the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but the battle to ensure that all Americans are able to vote is very much ongoing. That landmark legislation was achieved through the blood and sacrifice of hundreds who marched from Selma, Alabama to the state capital of Montgomery. They protested against discriminatory voting practices which meant that vast numbers of African-American citizens were deliberately disenfranchised. My colleague the Reverend Al Sharpton and host of MSNBC’s Politics Nation is leading the march and he joins us from Alabama. Good afternoon, sir.

REVEREND AL SHARPTON: Good afternoon, Martin.

BASHIR: Great to have you. Do you believe that there is a deliberate attempt at voter suppression being undertaken by the right today?

SHARPTON: Yes, I do. I'll say it unequivocally.  When you look the at facts that we see fraction of 1% of prosecutions on voter fraud brought in the last decade and that they are now all of a sudden going after voter I.D. laws and lessening early voting in over 30 states being proposed, 8 states already enacting,  just suddenly they all have this same revelation with no data to back it up risking five million people that will be disenfranchised, one has to conclude it's a deliberate attempt to try and suppress our votes in particularly minority communities that are disproportionately impacted, seniors and students.  

BASHIR: Now you will know that some Republicans claim that people can walk off an international air flight, stroll into a voting booth and mark their vote without any attempt to check that they are qualified to do so. Do they have a point in seeking to strengthen identification  requirements?

SHARPTON: Absolutely not. First of all, one would then ask why have you not presented evidence where that is happened. Why would we risk you having something you fear is possible with an absolute that we know five-million  people would be disenfranchised. That's one. Secondly, why do we change the identification that is necessary now. We didn't change it in the last 30 years. But let me tell you this Martin, they didn't ask that we have photo id in their own primaries now. They're not having photo I.D. in Super Tuesday Republican primaries tomorrow. They didn't have it in Iowa. They didn't have it in South Carolina. So Why do they want it in the general election? If they're quote so concerned about that, they should be doing it right now during their primaries. They're not doing it because they're not targeting those voters.

BASHIR: Could it have anything, perhaps sir,  to do with the fact that African-Americans have tended to vote in large proportions for this president?  I’m just suggesting.  

SHARPTON: One can suspect that you're suggestion is well founded. Whatever it is, I think since they are changing something that has not been broken, since they are fixing something that's not broken, one can only suspect there's another motive other than fixing it. Secondly, since it's impacting and clearly the most frontal attack on the voting rights act we’ve seen in 47 years , that's why we're out here marching to protest.  Certainly the people that come from all over the country would not be walking and marching ten miles a day to raise this issue, if we didn't feel it was real threat.
 

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.