North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson is the first Black person to hold his office, and in impassioned testimony before a House Judiciary subcommittee, he expressed pride in Black people’s progress in the U.S., while denouncing Democrats’ opposition to Georgia’s new voting laws as "preposterous" and "insulting."
At a Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties hearing on voter discrimination, Robinson focused on one aspect of Georgia’s law that Democrats are calling restrictive and racist: its identification requirements for both in-person and absentee voting.
"Am I to believe that Black Americans, who have overcome the atrocities of slavery, who were victorious in the civil rights movement, and now sit in the highest levels of this government, cannot figure out how to get a free ID to secure their votes? That they need to be coddled by politicians because they don’t think we can figure out how to make our voices heard? Are you kidding me? The notion that Black people must be protected from a free ID to secure the vote is not just insane, it is insulting."
The lieutenant governor went on to cast doubt on Democrats’ true motivation behind their current voting rights efforts.
"This doesn’t have anything to do with justice. This has everything to do with power," Robinson said.
He cited a recent event where Vice President Kamala Harris went to the Woolworth counter in Greensboro to commemorate the 1960 sit-in that opposed segregation. Robinson pointed out that while Harris was there, Clarence Henderson – who actually participated in the sit-in – was not invited. Henderson was a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump.
"The goal of some individuals in government is not to hear the voices of Black Americans at all. It’s to hear the voices that fit their narratives and ultimately help keep power with one group," he said.
Robinson called Democrats’ sweeping election reform bill H.R. 1 "despicable" and accused them of trying to use it "to keep one party in power and ensure they stay there indefinitely." Republicans have adamantly opposed H.R. 1, arguing that it would improperly take power away from states by forcing them to comply with rules that strip security measures from the voting process.
Earlier in the week voting rights was a hot topic being discussed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Georgia voting rights activist Stacey Abrams asserted that the voter ID requirement for absentee ballots was problematic, as well as racist. She claimed that while she supports voter ID laws in general, this one was overly restrictive and impacted Black voters’ ability to participate in elections.
Abrams went so far as to say that parts of Georgia’s new law were "a direct result" of "increased participation of communities of color in the 2020 and 2021 elections." She also said she believes that bills were inspired by "racial animus" but that not every person involved necessarily shared that feeling.