By Kaitlyn D’Onofrio
According to President-elect Donald Trump, Black voters who stayed home on Election Day were “almost as good” as the ones who voted for him, who came through for him “big league.”
“The African American community was great to us. They came through, big league. Big league,” he said at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “And frankly if they had any doubt, they didn’t vote, and that was almost as good because a lot of people didn’t show up, because they felt good about me.”
The rally on Friday was part of the president-elect’s “Donald J. Trump USA Thank You Tour 2016,” in which he is traveling to each state he defeated his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton. Trump won Michigan by a very small margin, 47.6 percent to 47.3 percent, according to CNN’s exit poll.
Trump received about just 8 percent of the Black vote nationally, according to exit polls. He was widely considered unfavorable by Blacks throughout his campaign. But Clinton failed to garner as much African American support as President Barack Obama did in 2012, at which time 93 percent of Black voters voted for him. About 88 percent voted for Clinton this year. In 2012, Republican candidate Mitt Romney received 6 percent of the Black vote.
The fact that Trump garnered more of the Black vote nationally than Romney did in 2012 was unexpected given some of his campaign rhetoric. He repeatedly made false statements about all Black Americans living in poverty and inner cities. He repeatedly told Black voters at rallies, “What do you have to lose?”
At an Ohio rally in October, Trump said Blacks live in inner cities and “ghettos.” The word “ghetto” is widely considered an outdated term and is no longer used in mainstream media discussions.
New Voter ID Rules Pass in Michigan House
Trump’s rally came just two days after Michigan’s house, which is Republican-led, passed a very strict voter ID law. Michigan voters can cast a provisional ballot without showing photo ID, but they must present a photo ID to their local clerk’s office within 10 days of the election for their vote to be counted. The measure passed 57-50.
Originally, the law allowed voters to cast ballots without showing photo ID, but they had to sign an affidavit and faced perjury if they were lying about their identity. According to The Detroit News, 18,388 residents of Michigan voted this way, of whom about half were from Wayne County — where Clinton won 66.8 percent to 39.9 percent. Wayne County, according to Census data, is 39.1 percent Black. Overall, the state of Michigan is just 14.1 percent Black.
According to Rep. Lisa Lyons (R-Alto), who sponsored the legislation, the bill will “deter and detect fraud, however widespread it may or may not be.”
No cases of voter fraud were reported, according to the Michigan Secretary of State’s office. Despite repeated studies showing that voter fraud is virtually nonexistent, Trump and other Republicans have insisted it is a rampant problem across the country.
Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) pointed to the inevitable confusion the new requirements will create.
“This is going to cause confusion and chaos at the polls,” he said. “There’s going to be arguments, voters aren’t going to understand, and long lines are going to get even longer. Maybe that’s the point.”
As the legislation currently reads, $8 million will be dedicated to “election modernization, voter education and implementation” of the requirements, $2 million will be allocated for free birth certificates and $1 million will be put toward a free ID program.
But Melissa Kovach, a member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, said this does not cover all costs the bill will burden voters with.
“Waiving the cost of a photo ID does not account for other significant costs that voters will have to pay, including transportation, waiting in line, time away from work or acquiring the underlying documents like a birth certificate,” she wrote in a blog post. “The practical effect of these bills will be to disenfranchise the vast majority of eligible voters who don’t have photo ID or show up on Election Day without it.”
Republicans also represent the majority of the state’s Senate, 27-11. It is unclear if Gov. Rick Snyder (R) will sign the bill, should it pass.
“Gov. Snyder doesn’t decide whether or not he will sign a bill until he is sent the final version as passed by both chambers and has a chance to thoroughly review it,” a spokeswoman for the governor said.