Ted Cruz Demonstrates Lack of Historical Understanding, Argues That Making It Easier To Vote Would Be “Jim Crow 2.0”

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) criticized Democrats for working to pass election reforms, arguing that making it easier for citizens to vote would be “Jim Crow 2.0.”

“This legislation is profoundly dangerous, and the reason it suppresses millions of votes is by allowing millions of people to vote illegally,” Cruz said during a Senate rules committee hearing on the bill. “That is the intended effect and that would be the actual effect of this bill. It dilutes the legal votes of American citizens.” 

Cruz went on to claim that the For the People Act, an election reform package sponsored by Democrats, would satisfy a “want to stop the voters from voting Democrats out of power.”

Cruz’s reference to “Jim Crow” is erroneous, considering that many of the racist laws during the Jim Crow era were explicitly designed to stop Black Americans from exercising their right to vote.

His comments bring to mind recent remarks by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who recently claimed that Democrats created Jim Crow laws. This claim is misleading: Southern Democrats defended slavery in the 19th century and proposed the racist laws that were on the books for decades well into the 20th. The monopoly that Southern Democrats held in the southern states fractured––and they would later became today’s Republican Party––as support for desegregation and civil rights reforms took center stage.

Election reforms are popular with the American public. The For the People Act would expand opportunities to vote by mail, require that states establish electronic voter legislation, and empower the Department of Justice to enforce voting rights law.