Are we even slightly surprised anymore to see a story about Republican elected officials at the state or county level treating a racist email as no big deal? No, thought not. Still, this iteration of the meme has implications beyond the usual facepalm and “Oh no, not again.” Here’s the dealio: the email is evidence in a federal trial involving South Carolina’s Voter ID law. The Justice Department was all, “No, sorry South Carolina, that violates the Voting Rights Act,” and then SC was like, “Hey, we just wanna make sure there’s no fraud, even though, OK, sure, there hasn’t been any fraud, but you never know!” And the Justice Department just rolled its eyes and went “Pffft, yeah, right, whatever.” But gosh, what if it could be shown that the law was actually aimed at suppressing minority voting? That would be pretty bad!
So in court on Tuesday, the law’s author, State Rep. Alan Clemmons, acknowledged that, while he was drafting the law, a supporter named Ed Koziol emailed him a hilarious insight: If, instead of requiring ID to vote, the state offered a cash incentive to have photo ID, then the poors and the blacks would all “be like a swarm of bees going after a watermelon.” Clemmons testified that, yes, he kind of replied “Amen” and “thank you for your support” to the email. But please, do not be deceived! Rep. Clemmons has thought it over and also testified that his reply was “poorly considered.” That is quite a relief! Rep. Clemmons would like to talk about something happy now please, because the past is the past, really, and maybe “watermelon” is not a racially-charged word choice any more.
A civil rights lawyer also asked Clemmons about packets of peanuts that were distributed with cards that read “Stop Obama’s nutty agenda and support voter ID.” Clemmons reportedly testified previously that he was the one who handed out the packets, but this time he said he could not remember doing so.
We will take the high road and attribute that to the irresistable call of a bad pun, and nothing more.
And in other Voter ID news, here is a radio interview with a black conservative lobbyist in Florida who thought requiring a photo ID to vote was a nifty idea until he was almost prevented from voting. Oopsies! That’s only supposed to happen to OTHER people!