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Lewis Black’s rant on voter ID will make you just as angry as he is
“Elected officials shouldn’t get to choose who gets to choose elected officials.”
It doesn’t take a lot to get Lewis Black worked up. It’s kind of his thing.
Getting so full of rage at a combination of societal injustice and general human stupidity that he can’t help but go off an eye-bulging, red-faced rant is what transformed Black from an avant-garde New York City playwright into a best-selling author and international comedy superstar.
To paraphrase the Notorious B.I.G., “Either you’re slinging crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot or you’re just really funny when you get pissed off.”
Thinking about how voter ID laws across the country are often deliberately designed to block people from legitimately exercising their most fundamental of constitutional rights is enough get anyone mad, but when Black has a conversation about the issue with American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project Director Dale Ho, smoke basically comes out of his ears.
“We’re fighting people trying to fight people who are suppress voting all over the county. Like North Carolina—they slashed a week of early voting. That affects over 2 million people,” Ho told Black in a video produced by the ACLU. “Voter ID, like they tried to implement in Wisconsin, costs money. It essentially is a poll tax.
“Elected officials shouldn’t get to choose who gets to choose elected officials,” Black responded, yelling (because of course). “Look, people marched, fought ,and died for the right to vote, and they want to legislate away that sacrifice to stay in power? Not on my watch, baby!”
Voter ID laws are generally pushed by Republicans and have the effect of making it more difficult for core Democratic constituencies—racial and ethic minorities, the poor, etc.—to be able to vote. Backers of these laws typically argue that their goal is to prevent voter fraud, but there have been times when an conservative supporter has openly admitted that laws are aimed at gaining an electoral advantage for the GOP.
In 2012, the Republican leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives said at a party meeting that “voter ID … is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”
However, for at least one of the examples given by Ho in the ACLU video, the group maybe doesn’t have to worry anymore, at least for a little while. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court wrote a letter upholding a decision by a lower court to block the implementation of the Wisconsin voter ID law.
Along with the video, Black penned an open letter in his trademark style to all politicians who want to implement voter ID laws:
What the hell is the matter with you people?! You need to get your head on straight.
The cornerstone of this great country is the right to vote – and you should be fighting to make sure that every citizen who can vote, does! But instead you’re creating obstacles for voters? Well, that makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it… F*** that!
Screencap via ACLU/YouTube
Aaron Sankin is a former Senior Staff Writer at the Daily Dot who covered the intersection of politics, technology, online privacy, Twitter bots, and the role of dank memes in popular culture. He lives in Seattle, Washington. He joined the Center for Investigative Reporting in 2016.