You may have already heard that plans are afoot to introduce a bill that would put a measure on the November ballot to require that North Carolinians present photo ID at the polls in order to vote.
This isn't the first time that the NCGA has tried to introduce a voter ID law, and so far all of its attempts have failed in court. In 2016, a federal court overturned a previous voter ID law, on the basis that it would “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” (NYT).
Although the principle of requiring ID at the polls is reasonably popular in North Carolina, there is little evidence of any threat to our election integrity as a result of fraudulent in-person votes. A cynic might view this as yet another attempt by our legislators in the NCGA to choose their own voters. We know that voter ID requirements typically impact women (Washington Post) and minority (The Guardian) voters more than others.
In 2016, The Nation published an account of the case of Rosanell Eaton, a key witness in the case. Rosanell Eaton, aged 94, is a voting rights advocate who had fought for her right to vote for over 70 years, facing down the Jim Crow era literacy tests in order to be able to vote, and personally registering over 4000 voters. The previous voter ID law would have stripped her of her right to vote because the name on her voter-registration card did not match the name on her driver’s license, due to the inclusion of her middle name on one but not the other.
"Beginning in January 2015, Eaton undertook a herculean effort to match her various documents and comply with the law. Over the course of a month, she made 11 trips to different state agencies—four trips to the DMV, four trips to two different Social Security offices, and three trips to different banks—totaling more than 200 miles and 20 hours. “It was really stressful and difficult, [a] headache and expensive, everything you could name,” she said."
The measure would enshrine in the North Carolina constitution that all voters must present ID in order to vote in person. It wouldn't address absentee voting (which is where fraud is most likely to happen) and it wouldn't specify the type of photo ID required. That would be left up to the NCGA.
At Stamp NC Blue, we believe that high levels of voter turnout are a good thing for democracy. That is why we are working to build engagement and encourage turnout through our postcard campaigns. Wouldn't it be nice if we could trust that our legislators really were motivated by fear of voter fraud. However, nothing about the track record of this legislative body gives us any confidence that they are interested in being held to account by the voters.
Find out more in our earlier post, including information on how to contact legislators to demand that they vote no, and in the following links:
ACLU of NC
NC Policy Watch
News & Observer