The GOP Is Keeping People From Voting Instead of Giving Them a Reason To | Opinion

The following is a lightly edited transcript of remarks made by Allan Katz during a Newsweek podcast debate on recent voting legislation in GOP-governed states. You can listen to the podcast here:

I have no problem with the idea of a voter ID. The question needs to be what suffices for voter ID. Maybe it's a utility bill. Maybe it's some other indication because I think most people, regardless of race or our party, believe that no one should be voting in the name of someone else. If we look at what we know in terms of voter fraud, since the days of the big-city machines, we don't have any cases of systemic voter fraud in the United States.

So the real issue becomes one of what do you really want to accomplish here? What I think we want to accomplish here is that we want more people to vote. We want to make it easier for people who are eligible to vote, we want their votes all to be counted and we all want it to be accurate. If Republicans spent more time trying to convince these people to vote for them and less time trying to keep them from voting, they probably would come out a lot better. It is far too easy to use race as the basis on both sides to talk about a bad bill as a racist bill. Sometimes a bad bill is just a bad bill.

Georgia Ballot Drop Box
In this Monday, Oct. 19, 2020 file photo, a voter submits a ballot in an official drop box during early voting in Athens, Ga. Georgia’s secretary of state says, Tuesday, June 15, 2021, his office is reviewing the handling of paperwork related to ballot drop boxes in the state’s most populous county during last year’s election. John Bazemore/AP Photo

We take the term "racist" and we throw it around way too much. I think there was racism in this country, and I think there still is institutional racism in the country. However, everything that I don't agree with isn't necessarily racist. Everything that the Republicans want to do isn't necessarily racist. The farther we can get away from that, and focus on what the real issue is here, the better off we are.

There are a lot of ways to deal with the Senate filibuster. You can lower the number. We lowered it in the past from 67 to 60. Maybe in these partisan times, that's a more realistic way to go. You can carve out an exception for voting rights, because that's a fundamental right. All I'm trying to say here is that there are ways to go forward without calling people names and working very hard to keep more people from having an opportunity to vote.

As I've said to my Republican friends, if you spent more time trying to convince these people to vote for you and less time to keep them from voting, you'd probably come out a lot better.

Ambassador Allan Katz was President Obama's ambassador to Portugal. He is the founder of American Public Square.

The views in this article are the writer's own.