Don Lemon Says GOP Arizona Rep. Said 'Quiet Part Out Loud' With Voting Restriction Comment

CNN's Don Lemon has criticized a Republican lawmaker who said the GOP believes "everybody shouldn't be voting" as he defended proposals to restrict voting access in Arizona.

State Rep. John Kavanagh said Republicans were concerned about the automatic sending of ballots, suggesting this could increase voter fraud if delivered to people who had died or moved home, or push people who were "uninformed on the issues" to take part in elections.

Republicans in the Arizona legislature are attempting to impose a number of voting restrictions, including narrowing its voting window and limiting the state's vote-by-mail system.

"There's a fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans," Kavanagh told CNN.

"Democrats value as many people as possible voting, and they're willing to risk fraud. Republicans are more concerned about fraud, so we don't mind putting security measures in that won't let everybody vote—but everybody shouldn't be voting.

"Not everybody wants to vote and, if somebody is uninterested in voting, that probably means that they're totally uninformed on the issues," he added. "Quantity is important, but we have to look at the quality of votes as well."

Responding to the comments, CNN host Lemon suggested that Kavanagh said the "quiet part out loud," condemning the idea that some votes were more important than others.

"Republicans are hard at work trying to disenfranchise Americans in voter suppression efforts, the likes of which we have not seen since Jim Crow," Lemon said during his show on Thursday. "There are more than 250 bills nationwide to roll back voter access, 24 of them in Arizona alone.

"One Arizona Republican is really taking saying the quiet part out loud to new heights, or maybe new depths.

"He says everybody shouldn't be voting. Not everybody wants to know ... he actually said that out loud."

Lemon went on to liken Kavanagh's remarks to the way that literacy tests were once used to prevent people of color and poor white people from casting ballots.

"What he is saying is the definition of voter suppression.

"Everybody should be voting. That is the American way. That is the foundation of our democracy—free, free, free and fair elections, not quality of votes, free and fair," Lemon said.

"If you care about democracy, they want everybody to vote. Everyone is equal under the law, not the quality of this person's vote is better than the quality of this person's vote. That's not how our democracy works."

Democrats have also argued that the GOP's proposals in Arizona are an attempt to suppress voting, targeting methods preferred by Democrats. Arizona was one of the states that President Joe Biden flipped in November's election.

His predecessor Donald Trump frequently made baseless claims that he lost because of widespread voter fraud.

"They [Republicans] are trying to make it harder for everyone to vote based on the hope and desire that the people who it harms more and who it disenfranchises more are the people less likely to vote Republican," Arizona Rep. Athena Salman told CNN.

Kavanagh has been contacted for further comment.

Political signs are scattered in front of Southeast Regional Library on November 3, 2020, in Gilbert, Arizona. CNN's Don Lemon has criticized state Rep. John Kavanagh for suggesting that "everybody shouldn't be voting." Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images