Some well-intentioned liberals are praising Kentucky Republican lawmakers for making it easier to vote in the Bluegrass State instead of passing laws aimed at suppressing minority votes, most of which go to Democrats.

They’d never admit it, of course. But the Republicans approved voting “reform” legislation because it helps the GOP.

Last year, the deadly coronavirus pandemic led to emergency changes in voting rules to give Kentuckians greater and safer access to the ballot box.

Mostly rural, Bible Belt conservative Kentucky is one of the reddest of the Republican Red states. Hence, the new rules were bound to work in the Republicans’ favor.

They did, big time.

The GOP base turned out in droves and blew out the Democrats just about everywhere. So state House and Senate Republicans opted to continue expanded voting via legislation.

“Red voters liked being able to vote as they did, and they and party leaders liked the outcome,” said former Louisville Courier-Journal editor David Hawpe.


  • Donald Trump won again in a landslide, pocketing all but Jefferson (Louisville) and Fayette (Lexington) counties.
  • Mitch McConnell romped, carrying every county save Jefferson, Fayette and Franklin (Frankfort).
  • All 5 incumbent GOP congressmen cruised to reelection.
  • The GOP enhanced its already whopping majorities in the state House and Senate.

Naturally, with numbers like those, House and Senate Republicans were itching to make last year’s rule changes permanent. (The Democrats got behind the GOP legislation because they consistently support any measures to boost voter participation.)

While the GOP tide is still rising in Kentucky, it’s ebbing in swing states like Pennsylvania, where Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have significant African American populations, and purpling states like Georgia, which is close to 33 percent Black. In states like those, Republican majority legislatures are scrambling to pass neo-Jim Crow laws to suppress minority voting, mainly African American and Hispanic.

Kentucky is less than 9 percent African American, so Republican legislators saw no need to curb minority voting.

Anyway, today’s almost all-white Bluegrass State GOP puts this historian in mind of the white supremacist Democrats who dominated state government during the Jim Crow era.

They passed a string of laws segregating Blacks from whites on a less than equal basis. But unlike Democrats in the old Confederate states, all of which had significantly larger African American populations than Kentucky, Bluegrass State Democrats didn’t pass a law stripping the vote from African Americans, though Blacks overwhelmingly favored the “party of Lincoln and Liberty.” (Slavery was less extensive in border state Kentucky than in the South. And, African Americans are still more numerous in the South than in Kentucky.)

Simply put, Bluegrass State Dems didn’t disenfranchise African Americans because they figured there weren’t nearly enough Blacks from Jordan to Jenkins to threaten Democratic control in Frankfort.

Today, most African Americans vote for Democrats because from the 1960s onward, the Democrats have championed civil rights legislation, and the Republicans haven’t. Even before Trump’s advent, the GOP had become what the Democrats were for decades: the white folks’ party.

In Kentucky and elsewhere, the GOP looks more like the party of Jeff Davis than of the Great Emancipator. The state NAACP doesn’t grade state legislators. But GOP Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and Republican Congressmen James Comer, Brett Guthrie, Thomas Massie, Hal Rogers and Andy Barr all rated an “F” on the current NAACP Federal Legislative Report Card. Congressman John Yarmuth, Kentucky’s lone Democrat, made an “A.”

“We have such a small potential Black vote that we are not Georgia, so turnout operates differently there than it does here,” Hawpe said.

So, while Republicans in Kentucky made it easier to vote because they thought it benefited them, you can bet that if the Democrats, with a big boost from minorities, start significantly rebounding in Kentucky, GOP voter “reform” will swiftly become impermanent, and Republican lawmakers will lose no time restricting minority voting.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Berry Craig of Arlington, Ky., is a professor emeritus of history at West Kentucky Community College in Paducah and an author of seven books and co-author of two more, all on Kentucky history. His latest book is Kentuckians and Pearl Harbor: Stories from the Day of Infamy, published last fall by South Limestone Books, an imprint of the University Press of Kentucky.


    • To summarize a long screed…It’s another rant that Democrats aren’t Christian because they support reproductive rights and marriage for all.

      • No, it’s more of a plea for Christians who vote for pro-choice and pro-gay marriage (who are usually Democratic candidates) to re-examine what God says in His Word about such things and not about what man says. Man’s narrative over the years may change (popular, current, secular ideas), but God’s Word does not.

        • Gods Word? Anyone can claim anything under that subject. You have every right as a citizen to base your vote on your religious beliefs or your interpretation of “God’s Word” but don’t expect national policy to be based on religious fanaticism. Surely you’re aware that not everyone including Christians, agree with what you think God’s word is. God’s word isn’t anymore valid than your implication that a black pastor speaks for the majority of blacks.

          • God’s Word is the Bible (or the Bible contains God’s Word…..however you want to word it). It’s sharper than any two edged sword.

            I know that not all people believe the Bible or believe the same things about the Bible.

            My original comment was concerning some black (or any color, for that matter) Christians who vote for candidates that represent things that God wouldn’t like……….the comment was not concerning lost people…..people who have not put their faith and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ.

          • No matter one’s belief or religion they shouldn’t use God as an excuse to deny the rights of others.

  1. Berry, this shows that the “voter fraud” allegations only comes out if more Democrats, especially Black Dems, vote.

  2. Regarding the Georgia reform bill, I would like one of you Democrats who are against it to elaborate on the following: why do you think that a bill to make elections more secure is racist? Everyone has to abide by the rules. Black and Hispanic people are perfectly capable of abiding by the rules, just like white folks. It’s about making sure nobody cheats……regardless of whether a Republican or a Democrat gets elected. And regarding the food and water issue, this may be to keep people from either party trying to sway the voters who are in line. I think nonpartisan people may be able to supply water. For that matter, bring your own water.

    A comment: it’s so pitiful listening to CNN and then listening to FOX. CNN is so liberal. Basically, it’s the Democrat network, and FOX is the Republican network. If I want to get irritated, all I have to do is listen to CNN.

    • Let’s begin with “Souls to the Polls,” a long-standing tradition in Black churches where after worship, they load people on buses and take them to vote, because Georgia had early voting on Sundays. This bill removes Sunday early voting.

      Then there’s drop boxes. The bill removes a number of ballot drop boxes, many in Black communities, and forces anyone who wants to drop off their ballot to go further from home to do so. Remember that many minority voters use public transportation, so this is a particular hardship on them.

      The “no water or food” provision. Because Georgia puts fewer voting locations in Black communities, lines for Black voters are often much longer. (As in, voting taking hours, not minutes.) Last election, numerous groups brought food and water to those locations, so people would stay in line to vote. Now, if you give one person a single bottle of water, you can be arrested. And I will guarantee you that this law will be enforced at Black voting locations, but not at white ones.

      The bill is blatantly racist. It’s only purpose is to drive down the votes of the poor and minorities.

      But the racism, frankly, is not the worst part. The worst part of the bill is that it gives the state legislature the ability to overturn an election if it doesn’t like the results. That’s not racist; that’s fascist.

      • Thanks so much for your explanation. I wasn’t very familiar with the Sunday after church voting for the blacks. Your points about the drop boxes, etc. make sense. Thanks again!

    • Whenever someone begins with a leading question designed to elicit the response they’re looking for one tends to be skeptical of their position. The leading question by M.T. “…why do you think that a bill to make elections more secure is racist?” is not only a leading question but also a non sequitur fallacy.

      The question assumes that elections aren’t already secure when the opposite has been proven the case. In every instance in which the GOP has claimed an election wasn’t secure during the last election has been proven false by bipartisan state election officials. Moreover, 60 courts of law rejected that claim also. Nevermind that M.T. seems to be unaware that trump attempted a coup on January 6th to overturn a legitimate, secure election.

      And yet the GOP and its sycophants are still desperately trying to sell the snake oil that the election wasn’t secure therefore Biden is not a legitimate President. And therein lies the real reason for M.T.’s leading question.

      • Biden is the president. I disagree with Trump provoking the crowd and what happened on January 6. Trump should have faded away quietly and graciously.

        It’s that it seems that everything today is racist; that’s a broad statement, but I hope you understand my point. People say the voting bill is racist, but if one person doesn’t like something about another person, then they might say that that person is racist……’s getting to the point where it’s ridiculous.

        I didn’t vote for Obama either time because he was black…….no……I didn’t vote for him because of his liberal agenda. If in this past election Joe Biden was running against Ben Carson, I would have voted for Ben Carson. People who are against the biblical view of marriage and the sanctity of life generally don’t get my vote.

  3. Based on your response one can only conclude that you don’t believe the Georgia voting bill that just passed is racist even though it targets people of color. In that regard we have to agree to disagree. If Mr. Craig is correct in his essay above, it will only be a matter of time before KY follows Georgia.

    One also has to assume you’re white therefore it’s not you who’s suffering under racism. If it were you would have no problem recognizing that an undercurrent of racism has infected the U.S. both culturally and economically since before it became a republic. It exhibits itself in any number of ways that are invisible to many who are white. You’re but one example among many. It’s incumbent on whites to learn our ugly history of racism in the U.S. Denial isn’t the solution.

    Moreover, it’s hard to believe that the GOP has any regard for the sanctity of life given that their lack of policies toward COVID 19 and universal healthcare in general have resulted in the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands. The same holds true for their biblical view of marriage or their hollow claims of being the “family values” Party. And as long as you’re pointing fingers you might consider that it was also the GOP that legalized abortion.

    • Sin is in this fallen world. Racism is just one example of the many sins that exist. In the new heavens and new earth there will not be any sin.

      There is only one race, the human race…….beginning with Adam and Eve. There are many different ethnicities and cultures, though.

      The GOP and the Dems are all imperfect people living in an imperfect world. They are make mistakes…….all of them….Christian and nonChristian alike.

      All born again believers are brothers in Christ…….regardless of the amount of melanin in their skin. 🙂

      Have a blessed week!

  4. Here is an extremely interesting article about black slave owners prior to and during the civil war. This stuff you won’t see in your school text books or is it propagated by the media.

    Since Berry Craig is a civil war historian, I thought he might enjoy reading this article. According to the article, some blacks were slave holders. Some of the owners and their slaves worked and ate side by side. One prominent black slave holding family supported the Confederacy during the war.

    • I’m sure Mr. Craig is well aware of the neo-confederate arguments designed to absolve the South of enslavement of others. It’s a time worn argument that’s equivalent to honoring traitors with statues and monuments in town squares throughout the South. Or the claim that there were white slaves too or Africans enslaved people in Africa too or the enslaved were better off here than in Africa or “…within a relatively short time, the obsolete and economically nonviable institution of slavery would have disappeared.”…ad infinitum.

      If you scroll down to the footnotes left by the hack author you’ll notice that his last footnote is of Eric Foner’s “Reconstruction”. Below is a link to a review and interview with Foner who’s a well recognized Civil War historian. In the interview Foner makes note of the true nature of slavery at the time. For example the fact that the majority of whites in So. Carolina owned slaves while at the same time the majority of people in So. Carolina were slaves. Black slave owners were rare. Citing the exception to the rule in order to justify codified slavery is not a winning argument.

      As a nation we need to confront and come to terms with our history of slavery instead of dredging up obscure rationales and excuses for it. It seems to me that a true Christian would not resort to such excuses. Denial isn’t the solution.

      • I don’t condone slavery. I didn’t say that I did in the previous post.

        BTW, are you aware that the Jewish people were at one time slaves of the Egyptians? And Moses led them out into the wilderness to escape the slavery? But the people disobeyed God and wandered for 40 years before God allowed them to reach the promised land. God performed miracles so that they could escape, but they sure did forget pretty quickly what he did for them. They built a golden calf. They grumbled and complained.

        But things that our ancestors did…….why should people today pay for that when they had nothing to do with it? That’s kind of like saying that John Doe’s ancestor was John Wesley Hardin and that John Doe should find all the relatives of the people that Hardin killed and give them some money.

        From a secular worldview, which is likely the way you view things, I can see that you think homosexual marriage would be okay. And it’s true that we don’t live in a theocracy. What makes it interesting though is that so many people in this country ARE Christians, and lots of them have a biblical worldview, which varies greatly from a secular worldview. But lots and lots of people here are not Christians, so we have these differences……some of which are reflected in the way we vote. Non Christians may think that Christians are being mean in regard to homosexual marriage, but it’s just the way many Christians interpret the bible…….that God created Adam and then he created Eve as Adam’s helper……….the two could pro-create. He made marriage for one man and one woman. Marriage reflects Jesus and the Church (all saved people). Jesus is the bridegroom and the church is his bride.

  5. OK, folks, the comment section has devolved into a discussion of homosexual marriage, which is not too relevant to the point of the article. So, I’m closing the comments.

Comments are closed.