For the past few years, voter ID laws in North Carolina have been a confusing mess of legislation passed, challenged in court and appealed all the way to the Supreme Court. As things currently stand, photo ID is not required in order to vote in North Carolina. In 2016, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that the NCGA's voter ID laws, which allowed only very limited forms of photo ID, "would target African-Americans with almost surgical precision", and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case (NPR).

However, recent comments by a Republican legislator, as reported by the Charlotte Observer, indicate that the battle over voter ID laws in North Carolina is not yet over. In a Facebook chat with constituents, Rep. Bob Steinburg, R-Chowan, proposed three constitutional amendments to declare that the state income tax would never rise over 5.5%, to protect hunting and fishing rights, and to require voter ID in North Carolina elections. These can be approved during the NCGA short session in May and presented to voters on the ballot in November. Polls suggest that a voter ID amendment would pass, given public support (without specifying the types of acceptable ID).

This issue is more than just theoretical. It is likely that the confusion and legal wrangling over the previous voter ID law was enough to depress turnout amongst African American voters.

Are you in favor of the constitutional amendments being proposed by legislators? Because this could come up for a legislative vote in May, contact your NCGA legislators soon to let them know what you think. If the NCGA passes these proposals, NC voters will vote them up or down in November. If this issue matters to you, make sure your voice is heard at the ballot box this year!

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