Justice Department Expert, Paid $70,000, Belittles Black Voters
OCTOBER 23, 2014
In an astonishing piece of election news from North Carolina, a Justice Department expert took the stand in a voting laws case to repeatedly suggest that that black voters were “less sophisticated” than white voters. Charles Stewart, a political scientist hired by the Justice Department at a cost of around $70,000, also belittled black voters’ education, competence, and public awareness.
Mr. Stewart: People who register to vote the closer and closer one gets to Election Day tend to be less sophisticated voters, tend to be less educated voters, tend to be voters who are less attuned to public affairs. That also tells me from the literature of political science that there are likely to be people who will end up not registering and not voting. People who correspond to those factors tend to be African Americans . . .
[Referring to same-day registration,] this is particularly a mechanism and a time that’s well situated for less sophisticated voters, and, therefore, it’s less likely to imagine that these voters…can figure out or would avail themselves of other forms of registering and voting.
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Q. Okay. So your testimony is that African Americans are less sophisticated than white voters; is that right?
Mr. Stewart: My understanding is that African Americans have lower levels of education in North Carolina, and I know from the public opinion work that African Americans report that they paid less attention to public affairs on average than white voters do probably because of the differences the education.
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Q. Did you ever take a survey – did you ever do a survey in the case of African American voters in North Carolina to see if they were less able to understand the rules for voting and registration?
Mr. Stewart: I have not done any survey that asks directly about understanding the rules of registering and voting.
Black voters should be furious at the suggestion they are somehow less able to navigate the basic rules governing democratic elections—and all taxpayers should be furious that they paid big bucks for this condescending nonsense.
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