Sen. Raphael Warnock falsely claims he never opposed voter ID laws

Warnock has spoken out against voter ID laws for years

Senator Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., claims he has "never been opposed" to voter ID laws — but a Fox News review of Warnock's past comments found that he has been a fierce opponent of voter ID requirements.

"I have never been opposed to voter ID," Warnock told NBC News in an interview published Thursday. "And in fact, I don't know anybody who is — who believes people shouldn't have to prove that they are who they say they are. But what has happened over the years is people have played with common sense identification and put into place restrictive measures intended not to preserve the integrity of the outcome, but to select, certain group."

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But Warnock has condemned voter ID requirements for years.

Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., right, talks to a reporter as he leaves the Capitol at the conclusion of the second day of the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., right, talks to a reporter as he leaves the Capitol at the conclusion of the second day of the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) ((AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta))

"All of these voter suppression laws saying we've got to have voter ID laws because if we don't they might vote twice. Are you kidding? Have you been in America these last several years? It's hard enough to get people to vote once, let alone twice," Warnock said in 2016.

"In a moment when they’re trying to make voting harder and harder — trying to cut down early voting, because they saw your strength. Dealing with these voter ID laws, this is not about voter verification, this is about voter suppression. They’re still playing the same games," Warnock said in a sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2015.

That same year, Warnock said that state voter ID laws passed after the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 were designed to exclude women, Black people and the poor from voting, rather than to protect against voter fraud, the Dallas Morning News reported.

He denounced "unnecessary and unjustifiable voter ID laws" and said they were an affront to Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy in January 2012. "You can not remember Martin Luther King Jr. and dismember him at the same time," Warnock said, adding that voter ID laws "constitute, in my estimation, a poll tax." 

Earlier this year, Georgia was embroiled in controversy over Republicans' new election law requiring identity verification for absentee ballots  — which still allows verification options other than a photo ID.

Warnock spoke against that law and in support of S. 1 in his first speech in Congress.

"We are witnessing right now a massive and unabashed assault on voting rights unlike anything we have seen since the Jim Crow era. This is Jim Crow in new clothes," Warnock said according to The Guardian.

"Since the January election, some 250 voter suppression bills have been introduced by state legislatures all across the country – from Georgia to Arizona, from New Hampshire to Florida – [all] using the Big Lie of voter fraud as a pretext for voter suppression," he continued.

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Moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has been critical of S. 1 in his current form and offered revisions his fellow Democrats, who need his vote, are considering. Influential Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams said Thursday she could "absolutely" support his revisions.

Manchin has been circulating a three-page compromise plan to the comprehensive S.1 bill, which the senator said he couldn't support because it was too partisan. Under his plan, he backs making Election Day a national holiday, mandating at least 15 days of early voting before federal elections and requiring voter ID with allowable alternatives.

Fox News' inquiry to Warnock's office was not returned at the time of publication.

Fox News' Cameron Cawthorne, Houston Keene, Marisa Schultz, Tyler Olson and Kelly Laco contributed to this report.