Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

In warning Republicans not to “go too crazy” on voter ID, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) meant that the topic “should not be a defining issue of the Republican Party,” according to a senior adviser.

“Everybody’s gone completely crazy on this voter ID thing,” Paul told the New York Times in an interview published Friday. “I think it’s wrong for Republicans to go too crazy on this issue because it’s offending people.”

“Senator Paul is wrong. It is leaders of the Democratic Party and their allies that have gone crazy over voter ID, not Republicans who have simply been trying to improve election integrity to protect all voters,” Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told The Foundry.

Generally, “voter ID” refers to laws and proposed laws requiring citizens to present a specific form of valid identification before they are allowed to vote.

“It is the absurd claims of voter ID opponents that are insulting – and Paul is apparently unaware that polls show that Americans no matter their race overwhelmingly support voter ID as a common sense reform,” said von Spakovsky, who manages Heritage’s Election Law Reform Initiative.

In a statement to media organizations, Paul aide Doug Stafford said the Kentucky Republican made the remarks in the Times interview in the context of “a larger discussion about criminal justice reform and restoration of voting rights.”

“In the course of that discussion,” Stafford said, “he reiterated a point he has made before that while there may be some instances of voter fraud, it should not be a defining issue of the Republican Party, as it is an issue that is perhaps perceived in a way it is not intended.”

Paul’s position is that voter ID laws should be decided at the state level.