Republican official to MSNBC host: Voter suppression accusation is ‘extremely insulting’
Republican National Committee Communications Manager Sean Spicer on Tuesday insisted that MSNBC host Thomas Roberts had insulted him after he was asked if Republicans “had put too much stock in voter suppression.”
“I actually find it extremely insulting to say that there was any effort by anyone to suppress the vote,” Spicer said. “I find that unbelievably insulting.”
Roberts pointed out that a federal court in August had blocked a Republican-passed photo ID law that they said would have likely suppressed the voting rights of minorities in Texas.
“I think to somehow equate showing a photo ID — which in most states is given free if there is an issue with the person’s economic condition — that somehow requiring people to show the same type of thing that would be required to get government assistance, get on an airplane, enter a government building is actually a common-sense move to make sure we maintain the integrity of the precious right to vote,” Spicer argued.
“Your basic American right isn’t to fly, is it?” Roberts pressed. “To get an ID like that in certain cases, it is considered to be a poll tax and a poll tax is unconstitutional. Is a poll tax constitutional or unconstitutional?”
“That’s like saying, to drive on a road is a poll tax because you have to get a license,” Spicer replied.
“Driving on a road and getting a license, that’s not a poll tax,” Roberts explained. “Going into a government building is not a poll tax, flying on an airplane and showing your passport is not a poll tax. But going to vote and having to prove who you are, but having to go out and spend money on getting that ID or driving 30 miles because you don’t have an ID place in your town so you’ve got to drive a disproportionate distance to get one, that is a poll tax. That costs you money.”
“What you’ve just said to me is, ‘Gosh, to prove who you are is a tax,'” Spicer said. “What would you do? Just assume that you walk in and anyone could just say, ‘Hey, I’m am who I am.'”
“But we don’t have an issue with voter fraud in this country,” the MSNBC host pointed out. “There are no substantial instances of voter fraud that federal judges would actually rule on to implement these laws.”
Spicer asked Roberts if he locked his house at night, not because it had been previously broken into, but “because it’s something precious and you want to protect it.”
“We need to lock out people from voting?” Roberts wondered. “I mean, that’s what basically voter suppression is: putting a lock on the right and access for many Americans to vote, who may not have the same access to voting as you and I have because maybe we can afford to go get an ID for ourselves.”
Watch this video from MSNBC, broadcast Oct. 10, 2012.