Kentucky: GOP rule change allows Paul to run for Senate amid his White House bid | The Washington Post

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) avoided a major headache Saturday after the Kentucky Republican Party approved a rule change that will allow him to run for president while seeking reelection to his Senate seat. “I applaud the Republican Party of Kentucky on their decision to hold a caucus in the upcoming Republican presidential cycle,” Paul said in a statement. “The people of Kentucky deserve a voice as the GOP chooses their next nominee, and holding a caucus will ensure that Kentucky is relevant and participates early in the process.” State law in Kentucky bars a person from appearing on an election ballot as a candidate for two different offices. So if Kentucky Republicans were to choose their nominees for president and Senate in a primary election, Paul could not run for both. By approving a caucus to select a presidential nominee, the Republican Party has cleared the way for him.

Kentucky: Rand Paul Purchases a Path Around an Inconvenient Kentucky Law | The Atlantic

Rand Paul is giving new meaning to the term “buying an election.” Over the weekend, the Kentucky senator said he gave $250,000 to his state’s Republican Party for the explicit purpose of funding its presidential caucus in March. He promised to pony up another $200,000 in the fall, enough to cover the entire cost of the nominating event. Put another way: Paul is paying the party to hold an election in which he is running. He’s doing it neither to ensure a victory nor out of the simple goodness of his heart. No, Paul is making a rather blatant end-run around state law, and he’s compensating the Kentucky GOP for going along with him. The law forbids someone from appearing on the same ballot as a candidate for two different offices, and Paul, who is up for reelection next year, doesn’t want to give up his Senate seat to make his rather long-shot bid for the presidency.

National: Where Candidates Stash Their Cash | Bloomberg

Chain Bridge Bank’s single ­location is next to a wine store and a café on the ground floor of a luxury condo building in suburban McLean, Va., about a half-hour outside downtown Washington. It looks like any small-town bank. Tellers keep bowls of candy at their windows, and staff members talk to customers about no-fee checking accounts. But right now, Chain Bridge, which has about 40 employees, is responsible for more of the hundreds of millions of dollars flooding into the 2016 presidential race than any other bank in the country. According to the most recent Federal Election Commission filings, Chain Bridge is the sole bank serving Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, which reported raising $11.4 million as of June 30, and his allied super-PAC, Right to Rise, which says it’s raised $103 million so far. Donald Trump’s campaign banks at Chain Bridge, and it’s listed as the primary financial institution for the campaigns of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and former Texas Governor Rick Perry. It’s also the only bank used by super-PACs supporting neurosurgeon and author Ben Carson, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, former technology executive Carly Fiorina, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, all Republicans.

Editorials: The election reforms that could heal American democracy | Sean McElwee/Salon

Since America’s founding, the franchise has been dramatically expanded in waves: first, universal suffrage for all men (first, through the abolition of property ownership requirements for white men, then the 15th Amendment) then the expansion of suffrage to women and finally the Voting Rights Act, which abolished poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, the franchise is still under fire, from racially biased voter ID laws and felon disenfranchisement, as well as our complex registration system. Automatic voter registration and the abolition of voter ID laws could be part of the next wave of the slow march to true democracy. Recently, Hillary Clinton called out Republicans for their strategy of suppressing the vote and then called for automatic voting registration. While many pundits quickly chalked this up to an attempt to revive “the Obama coalition,” in fact, Clinton has been pushing for democracy reforms since before “the Obama coalition” existed. In 2005 she and Senator Barbara Boxer put forward the “Count Every Vote Act.” The law would have made same-day registration the law of the land, expanded early voting and made election day a holiday. In addition, Clinton has been fighting against felon disenfranchisement, though Rand Paul, who has a penchant for receiving praise for things he hasn’t done, has recently been garnering credit for his talk on the subject.

Florida: Hillary Clinton wants to allow felons to vote. That could mean a lot in a state like Florida. | The Washington Post

While in Iowa on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton mentioned a policy reform that could affect the results of presidential races: Allowing ex-felons to vote. Clinton is not the first 2016 candidate to raise this issue, nor is it the first time that she’s done so. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has repeatedly advocated for restoring voting rights for felons convicted of certain crimes. At several points while she was in the Senate, including shortly after she announced her 2008 candidacy, Clinton introduced the Count Every Vote Act, which would have restored those rights to anyone not currently incarcerated or not on parole or probation for a felony. We’re still early in the 2016 campaign, so it’s hard to know if that’s still the boundary that Clinton sets. As it stands, people who are convicted of felonies but are on parole can or cannot vote depending on where they live, since rules on felon voting differ by state. The Sentencing Project has a handy primer on the differences. In 12 states, those convicted of a felony cannot vote even after having repaid their debt to society — sometimes for certain periods of time, sometimes only for certain felonies. (In two states, Maine and Vermont, there are no restrictions on the voting rights of felons, even if incarcerated.) In total, some 5.8 million people are barred from voting in the United States because of their criminal past, according to the Sentencing Project’s data.

Nevada: Why Ron Paul’s big showing in Nevada may have made it harder for Rand Paul to do the same | The Washington Post

Republican presidential politics in Nevada — a key early-voting state — have been chaotic in recent years, thanks in large part to former congressman and two-time GOP White House contender Ron Paul. Now his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is running for the office — and the state GOP may be making moves to guarantee the Paul family no longer finds Nevada to be lucky terrain. Nevada Republicans long generally picked a presidential favorite via primaries. In 2008, they held caucuses instead. Many Ron Paul voters showed up that day — but even more showed up at the state party’s convention months later. Paul’s supporters who flooded the gathering, looking to elect their candidate’s followers to represent the state at the national GOP convention. The state didn’t reschedule another convention, instead opting to choose delegates via conference call.

National: In Accepting Bitcoin, Rand Paul Raises Money and Questions | New York Times

Presidential fund-raising, never known for its transparency, may have just become even more secretive. In announcing his candidacy for president this week, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky waded into new waters when he said he would accept campaign contributions in Bitcoins, a largely untraceable virtual currency, in amounts up to $100. Interested donors at were given three options for making a contribution: a credit card, PayPal or Bitcoins. While some state and federal candidates in California, Colorado, New Hampshire and elsewhere have started accepting Bitcoins, Mr. Paul, a Republican, is the first presidential candidate to do so.

National: Presidential candidates-to-be make the most of fundraising rule-bending | Los Angeles Times

The charade comes to an end this month for many of the 2016 presidential contenders, who have long avoided saying they are running — while they are so obviously running — in order to sidestep rules that burden declared candidates. Ted Cruz is already in. Rand Paul is expected to follow suit Tuesday. Marco Rubio has a big announcement planned a week later. The timing, like most things in politics, is driven by money. April marks the start of a sprint to raise as much of it as possible for an official candidacy before the summer reporting deadline, which lands as televised primary debates are about to get underway. Candidates who fail to show that the early big money is flowing into campaign accounts could quickly falter. One big exception is Jeb Bush. Although he is perhaps the least coy of the pre-candidates about his plans to run — and among the most aggressive fundraisers — his announcement may not come for a while.

National: Push to restore voting rights for felons gathers momentum | MSNBC

“It would be transformative if everybody voted,” President Obama told a crowd in Cleveland Wednesday. He even mused about the idea of making voting mandatory. That’s not going to happen any time soon. But in the wake of record low voter turnout in last fall’s midterm elections, a movement is growing in Washington and around the country to dismantle a set of restrictions that keep nearly 6 million Americans from the polls: felon disenfranchisement laws. Many state restrictions on felon voting were imposed in the wake of Reconstruction, as the South looked for ways to suppress black political power. But now, the falling crime rates of the last two decades have prompted a broader reassessment of tough-on-crime policies. Meanwhile, the ongoing Republican-led assault on voting has triggered a backlash that aims to expand, rather than contract, voting rights. On Wednesday, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), backed by an array of civil- and voting-rights groups, introduced a bill that would restore voting rights for federal elections to Americans with past criminal convictions upon their release from incarceration. That came on the heels of a similar but more limited bill introduced last month by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that would apply only to non-violent offenders. Neither measure is likely to get much traction in the Republican-controlled Congress. But in the states, there has been plenty of movement lately.

Kentucky: State’s Rand Paul caucus problem | The Hill

Trying to assist the presidential aspirations of Sen. Rand Paul, (R-Ky.), the Kentucky GOP has taken a bold move. Under current law, Paul could not run for both reelection and the Republican presidential nomination. In order to create a work-around to this problem, the state party has made a one-time only move from a primary to a caucus system. This innovative approach is troubling on a number of levels, but the biggest one is clearly that the state GOP would be promoting the confusing and relatively undemocratic caucus system. Paul isn’t the first candidate to face this particular problem. Numerous states ban candidates from seeking two offices at once. In 1960, Texas changed its law to help Lyndon Johnson (D) run for both the Senate and the presidency at one time, a change that helped Lloyd Bentsen (D) when he ran for the VP position in 1988. There have been other recent attempts to change these laws, including in Indiana for Gov. Mike Pence (R) and even in Arkansas for newly elected Sen. Tom Cotton (R). Some states have no barriers to seeking two offices at once, and candidates have taken advantage of these rules on the VP level – notably Joe Lieberman (D) in 2000 in Connecticut, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in 2012. Both lost their races, as did Bentsen, but kept their seats in Congress.

Kentucky: At Rand Paul’s request, Republican committee gives green light to caucus | Lexington Herald-Leader

It looks increasingly like Kentucky Republicans will have a presidential caucus next year, when it seems just as likely that a Kentucky Republican will be running for president. While most of the state was focused on the Kentucky Wildcats’ quest for a perfect season Saturday, about 50 members of the Republican Party of Kentucky’s executive committee met behind closed doors for about two hours, listening to Paul and his staff make their case for a presidential caucus.

Editorials: Kentucky should let Rand run | Joshua Douglas/Louisville Courier-Journal

Will Sen. Rand Paul run for president, re-election to the Senate, or both? That last option —both — is unavailable to Paul based on a Kentucky law that forbids candidates from appearing on the ballot for more than one office. Kentucky should repeal that law and allow the voters to decide Paul’s fate. This weekend Paul will ask the Kentucky Republican Party to change the presidential nominating process to a caucus, avoiding the need to appear on a primary ballot for both president and Senate. But this plan simply kicks the issue to the future: If Paul wins both the presidential nomination and the Kentucky Senate primary, then he would be the nominee for two offices — even though Kentucky law forbids him from appearing on the general election ballot for both. Moreover, Paul should not have to jump through these hoops to let the voters decide his fate.

Kentucky: How Senator Rand Paul can run for re-election and president at the same time | Slate

Sen. Rand Paul is on track to officially jump into the presidential race on April 7, the New York Times reports, citing “people close to” the Kentucky Republican. “Only his family’s doubts could change his mind at this point, said associates of the senator,” according to the Times. While Paul’s entry into what is promising to be a crowded GOP field appears nearly a done deal, the first-term senator has one looming problem ahead: Kentucky law dictates that “no candidate’s name shall appear on any voting machine or absentee ballot more than once.” In other words, by law, Paul wouldn’t be able to compete in both his home state’s GOP presidential primary and Republican Senate primary, which will be held together on the same day in May 2016. Team Paul, meanwhile, has made it clear that their man isn’t willing to give up a second term in the Senate to battle for the GOP presidential nomination. So, game over then? Hardly. “There are avenues available to him, should he decide to run for both offices at the same time,” Doug Stafford, Paul’s top political strategist, told reporters on a conference call in early December. “I don’t think we have abandoned any option, nor have we settled on any option.”

Kentucky: Rand Paul asks GOP leaders for a presidential caucus in 2016 | Lexington Herald-Leader

Requesting help to avoid a “costly and time-consuming legal challenge,” U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is asking members of the Republican Party of Kentucky to create a presidential caucus in 2016 that would happen well ahead of the May primary election. In a letter dated Feb. 9, Paul told GOP leaders that an earlier presidential preference vote would give Kentuckians “more leverage to be relevant” in the wide-open competition for the Republican presidential nomination. And it could help him win that nomination, he said. “You, as a member of the Kentucky Republican Central Committee, will be the one to decide if you want to help me get an equal chance at the nomination,” Paul wrote.

National: Paul, Reid join on offender voting rights bill | The Hill

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have revived legislation that would give the right to vote back to some nonviolent criminal offenders. The Civil Rights Voting Restoration Act would restore voting rights in federal elections to people convicted of nonviolent crimes who are no longer in prison. Under the law, offenders on probation will receive the right to vote after one year. The law also sets up procedures under which states and the federal prison system are required to notify offenders that they will be allowed to vote. States can lose federal grants for their prison systems if they do not comply with the law.

Kentucky: It’s Almost Impossible for Felons to Vote in Kentucky. Rand Paul Wants to Change That. | Mother Jones

Sen. Rand Paul began the new year by lobbying for one of his favorite causes: criminal-justice reform. Last week, Paul issued a press release urging the Kentucky Legislature to act on a bill that would let state voters decide whether or not to create a path back to voting rights for nonviolent felons who have completed their sentences. “Restoring voting rights for those who have repaid their debt to society is simply the right thing to do,” Paul said in the release. In 2014, the Democratic-controlled Kentucky House approved a bill that would put a constitutional amendment on ballots in the fall—if voters approved the measure, it would have automatically restored the voting rights of nonviolent felons who have served their time. But the Republican-controlled Senate passed a substitute that proposed several tough restrictions, including a mandatory five-year waiting period after prison before felons could reapply to vote. The two chambers couldn’t agree, and the issue has stalled. Paul, who favors the less-restrictive House bill, is trying to give the issue CPR. (His office declined to comment for this article.)

National: How campaigns are courting 16-year-olds | Politico

Coming soon to a battleground state near you: White House campaigns combining census reports with Instagram and Twitter posts to target teenagers who aren’t yet 18 but will be by Election Day 2016. It’s an aggressive strategy with an obvious reward. More than eight million people will become legal adults eligible to vote for the first time by the next general election. Campaigns are eager to find ways to get through to these 16- and 17-year-olds who are still minors and, in most cases, more likely to be concerned with making it to class on time than who should be elected president. “It’s got to be the right candidate with the right message to excite and motivate that age demographic, with so many distractions in their life, to register, and then turn out,” said Vincent Harris, digital director for Rand Paul’s political operation.

National: Double Dip: How Rand Paul Can Legally Tap His Biggest Donors Twice | National Journal

Sen. Rand Paul could have a financial edge over many of his prospective presidential rivals in 2016 due to a quirk in timing and election law that lets him to tap his biggest donors for campaign cash twice. Paul has said he plans to seek Senate reelection and, if he runs, the Republican presidential nomination simultaneously. And because he would be campaigning for two federal offices, he would be eligible to have two open federal campaign committees at the same time. Thus, his largest donors could give $2,600 to his presidential primary campaign and another $2,600 to his Senate account for the primary. While federal rules do limit how he could spend the money, veteran election lawyers say diligent accounting could allow for legal cost-sharing between the two committees, saving Paul’s presidential bid precious dollars and letting him collect bigger checks from his biggest contributors. “The two big advantages you can think of are the ability to double-dip from donors and the ability to allocate your costs between two different entities,” said Neil Reiff, a Democratic campaign lawyer.

Kentucky: Rand Paul may forgo White House ballot measure in Kentucky | Courier-Journal

It looks as if U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is giving up hope that the Kentucky General Assembly will change state law so that he can run for both re-election to the U.S. Senate and for president in 2016. Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, who sponsored a bill that would have changed the law last year, said that Paul told him not to bother with sponsoring the legislation again after the Democrats held on to the Kentucky House of Representatives in last month’s election. “I spoke with Sen. Paul … and he thanked me and our caucus support, but he told me that he was not going to pursue that route this session, but he is looking into other options that will not require our help,” Thayer said in a recent interview.

Kentucky: Grimes pledges legal challenge if Paul attempts simultaneous races | WHAS

Six weeks after she lost her own bid for the U-S Senate, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (R-Kentucky) tells WHAS11 if U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) tries to appear on the same ballot for both Senate and President in 2016, she will challenge him in court. “The law is clear,” Grimes said. “You can’t be on the ballot twice for two offices.” Kentucky Democrats are not cooperating as Paul considers mounting simultaneous campaigns for Senate and President. Democrats maintained control of the Kentucky House in last month’s election, a roadblock to legislation favored by the Republican Senate to remove the prohibition. House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg) declined to consider a Senate bill to that effect earlier this year.

Kentucky: Rand Paul’s latest ballot option: Dare Alison Lundergan Grimes to defy him! | Salon

Senator Rand Paul is running for reelection in 2016. Can you believe it? He’s also probably running for president in 2016. That means that Paul will be running for two (2) offices in Kentucky in 2016 — a double-win for America, but also something that he can’t do according to Kentucky state law. Paul’s favored recourse — getting the Kentucky legislature to eliminate a law stating that “no candidate’s name shall appear on any voting machine or absentee ballot more than once” — is all but dead, after the Kentucky GOP’s efforts to take control of the state House fell short on Election Day. Kentucky’s Democratic Speaker has been clear that he has no intention of bringing up a bill to eliminate the law, because he doesn’t like Rand Paul. This doesn’t leave Paul without options. A couple of them are fairly straightforward: he could just not run in the Kentucky presidential primary and cede those delegates. Or the party could move the presidential primary to a caucus in March and keep the Senate primary in May — something that the party could choose to do without the legislature’s approval, the downside being that the party would have to cover the costs of the caucuses.

Kentucky: Rand Paul’s ballot time-bomb: Why he may have to sue to run for president | Salon

OK, sure, there’s little doubt that Rand Paul is going to win the next presidential election by a 538-0 electoral vote margin. But there’s maybe .000001 percent possibility he won’t that we can’t fully rule out. He could lose the general election, for example, if the Democrat Party Voter Fraud Machine tries to steal it. He could also lose to one of the other ~35 Republican presidential candidates in the primary. And then what does he do? Go home to Kentucky and be a boring old eye doctor for the rest of his life? He’d probably like to return to the Senate, where he’s up for reelection in 2016. This is the problem. Kentucky law states that “no candidate’s name shall appear on any voting machine or absentee ballot more than once.” That means that on May 17, 2016, the day of the Kentucky primary, Rand Paul cannot be a candidate in both the presidential primary and Senate primary. Kentucky Republicans had hoped to change this law. The Republican-controlled state Senate has already passed a bill to allow Paul to run for both. But Republicans failed to win control of the state House on election night, and the Democratic House speaker, Greg Stumbo, has blocked the bill. He claims “the state constitution bars lawmakers from passing ‘special legislation’ that would benefit only one person.” He added, a bit more to the point: “I’m not a fan of Sen. Paul, and I’m not eager to see my country turned over to him.”

Kentucky: Paul still faces ballot quandary in Kentucky | Associated Press

The Republican tidal wave that swept Democrats out of office nationwide didn’t solve U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s potential quandary in Kentucky, where the tea party favorite could become entangled in a state election law if he decides to run for president and another Senate term in 2016. Legislation tweaking the once-obscure law to ensure Paul could appear on Kentucky’s ballot running for both offices simultaneously easily passed the GOP-led Kentucky Senate this year. But it died across the Capitol in the House, where Democrats remain in charge. This fall, Republicans seemingly had their best chance in decades to gain control of the House in a state where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular. Had Republicans consolidated their power in the legislature, it seemed almost certain they would deliver on Paul’s request to change the law. But Democrats hung on to their majority, leaving the first-term senator and his supporters looking for other potential options.

Kentucky: Voting law leaves many out of election | Courier-Journal

His mailbox has been stuffed with campaign letters, his TV plastered with political ads. But Brian Wright of Louisville won’t be casting a ballot Tuesday in Kentucky’s election. He’s among an estimated 7.4 percent of voting-age Kentuckians — including 22.3 percent of black voting-age residents — barred from casting ballots because of a felony conviction, a disenfranchisement rate that is third-highest in the nation, according to the Sentencing Project, a reform advocacy group. “I want to have a voice,” said Wright, 33, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to drug possession, receiving five years of probation and losing the ability to vote. Kentucky is one of only four states where all felons permanently lose their right to vote unless it is restored by the governor, said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project. He argued the state’s high exclusion rate is “quite likely to have a real impact on elections.”

Kentucky: The Obscure Kentucky Contests That Could Alter Rand Paul’s 2016 Plans | National Journal

There are few contests for state Legislature in America that could affect the 2016 presidential race. This one, in far western Kentucky, is one of them. The incumbent Democrat, Rep. Will Coursey, has been hampered by a lawsuit alleging sexually inappropriate behavior. He denies the allegations and blames Republicans for engaging in tactics that are “feces of the species of poultry.” His GOP opponent, Keith Travis, says he’s trying to turn Marshall County red at the statehouse for the first time since the mid-1800s. “I just felt like, after 172 years, we ought to at least make that opportunity available,” he said. It’s small-town American politics with big-time national consequences for a top 2016 prospect: Rand Paul. This race, along with a handful of others across Kentucky, could determine whether or not Paul is allowed to run for president and for Senate at the same time, something he’s indicated he’s determined to do.

National: Cardin, Paul seek voting rights for former felons | Baltimore Sun

Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin teamed up with an unlikely political ally on Tuesday — Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky — in pushing for federal legislation to allow millions of Americans with felony convictions to regain their right to vote. Paul, a conservative Republican who many believe is eying a presidential run in 2016, joined Cardin, a Democrat, at a forum on Capitol Hill to call attention to the issue. Despite different political ideologies, the two have introduced similar bills to restore voting rights for felons who have served their sentences. “We’ve had some differences over the years, but we have joined forces in recognizing that there’s an important policy that we can advance in helping people reenter into our society,” Cardin said. “This is one of the Jim Crow laws of our time.” If either measure is approved it would replace a patchwork of state laws that vary widely on when a felon may vote.

National: Sen. Rand Paul seeks to expand voting rights to some ex-cons | Politico

Rand Paul is opening a new frontier for Republicans: Voting rights. The Kentucky senator is introducing this week a bill that restores voting rights to nonviolent felons in federal elections. Paul is also pursuing drug sentencing reform in the Senate and is mulling efforts aimed at easing nonviolent criminals back into the job market. He even wants to redefine some drug offenses currently classified as felonies to misdemeanors. Together, the moves add up to a concerted effort to get minorities, young people and civil libertarians excited about Republicans — groups that much of the party admits it needs. Paul argues he’s inspired by a sense of justice, but the expected 2016 contender won’t deny that his criminal justice portfolio is also motivated by politics. “I believe in these issues. But I’m a politician, and we want more votes,” he conceded in an interview. “Even if Republicans don’t get more votes, we feel like we’ve done the right thing.”

Editorials: The Debate Over Voting Rights Is Shifting Dramatically. Just Ask Rand Paul. | Ari Berman/The Nation

Last August, after the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, Rand Paul argued: “I don’t think there is objective evidence that we’re precluding African-Americans from voting any longer.” (For a comprehensive rebuttal, read Andrew Cohen’s “Here Where Rand Paul Can Find ‘Objective Evidence’ of Voter Suppression.”) Nine months later, Paul is saying of voter ID laws: “it’s wrong for Republicans to go too crazy on this issue because it’s offending people.” He’s conceded that Republicans have “over-emphasized” the prevalence of voter fraud and has called cutting early voting hours “a mistake.” He’s working with Eric Holder and lobbying in his home state of Kentucky to restore voting rights to non-violent ex-felons. This from a guy who ran for office as a darling of the Tea Party and suggested that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was unconstitutional. Paul’s new religion on voting rights is evidence of a broader shift on the issue. In recent weeks, courts in Wisconsin and Arkansas have struck down voter ID laws and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett decided not to appeal a Commonwealth Court decision in January overturning his state’s voter ID law

National: Paul Diverges From His Party Over Voter ID | New York Times

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky broke Friday with fellow Republicans who have pushed for stricter voting laws as a way to crack down on fraud at the polls, saying that the focus on such measures alienates and insults African-Americans and hurts the party. “Everybody’s gone completely crazy on this voter ID thing,” Mr. Paul said in an interview. “I think it’s wrong for Republicans to go too crazy on this issue because it’s offending people.” Mr. Paul becomes the most prominent member of his party — and among the very few — to distance himself from the voting restrictions and the campaign for their passage in states under Republican control, including North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin, that can determine presidential elections. Civil rights groups call the laws a transparent effort to depress black turnout.

National: Rand Paul calls out GOP over voter fraud claims | MSNBC

Sen. Rand Paul thinks the GOP might be over-hyping instances of voter fraud, and that Republicans shouldn’t scrap early voting. “There is still some fraud, and so we should stop that,” the Kentucky senator, considered a leading potential contender for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination, told former Obama adviser David Axelrod during a sit-down Tuesday at the University of Chicago. “Although the incidence of fraud is relatively small,” Axelrod said. “It probably is, and I think Republicans may have over-emphasized this. I don’t know,” replied Paul, who made clear that, like most of his party, he supports voter ID requirements.