GOP Lawmakers To Give Voter ID Bill Another Try | Eastern North Carolina Now

North Carolinians should expect the General Assembly to pass a strict voter ID bill in 2013, and it will be one that will pass federal and judicial scrutiny, a chairman of the House Elections Committee said.

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    Publisher's note: The author of this political post Barry Smith, who is an associate editor to the Carolina Journal, John Hood Publisher.

Republicans confident photo ID requirement will pass judicial muster

    RALEIGH     North Carolinians should expect the General Assembly to pass a strict voter ID bill in 2013, and it will be one that will pass federal and judicial scrutiny, a chairman of the House Elections Committee said.

    "We're going to get a bill that requires a photo ID to vote," said Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett.

    Democrats and liberal activists continue contending that a photo ID requirement would disenfranchise poor, elderly, and minority citizens who lack proper identification documents. Moreover, they say a recent report by the State Board of Elections showing a large number of voter records don't match Division of Motor Vehicles data would lead to major hassles when North Carolinians show up at polling places.

    Lewis said the law likely would be modeled after one passed in Georgia that has been pre-cleared under the federal Voting Rights Act. Lewis noted that some voter ID laws in other states have been struck down by courts.

    "We want to do it in a way that it becomes a reality," Lewis said. "It would be a neglect of the legislative process if we did not take into account the recent Department of Justice rulings that were handed down in South Carolina and Texas."

    Republicans in the General Assembly are hoping for success after then-Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed a measure passed in 2011.

    This year, Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. And a Republican now holds the governor's office, though GOP Gov. Pat McCrory has said that he would consider a voter ID bill that did not require voters to present a photo ID at the polls.

    Democrats were solid in their opposition to such a bill during the previous General Assembly. And although Democrats' numbers have dwindled, they continue to say such a measure is unnecessary.

    Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake, said a strict ID requirement would dilute voters' rights.

    "It smacks of voter suppression, which more than a few proponents of voter ID have cited as a reason why they want voter ID," Ross said.

    Lewis said that the photo ID required would have to be issued by a government agency or an Indian tribe.

    The documents allowed in the bill would include a driver's license, state-issued ID from the Division of Motor Vehicles, a state employee ID card, a University of North Carolina system ID card, a military ID card, a passport, or a tribal ID card.

    Ross believes other forms of identification that lack photos should be acceptable, such as the forms that are allowed when citizens register to vote. Those forms include utility bills, bank statements, tax bills, and payroll statements.

    "Whatever you're allowed to use to register to vote should be sufficient to vote," Ross said.

    Lewis said he and a number of other Republicans felt that photo IDs were necessary to prevent voter fraud.

    "Many of use are very concerned, because frankly, my 12-year-old with a Laserjet printer can forge a Progress Energy light bill," Lewis said. "We think you should have a photo ID to present at the polls to vote."

    Lewis said that he knows there are some voters who don't possess a photo ID.

    A recent analysis by the State Board of Elections found that many voter registration records did not match DMV and driver's license ID data. The board examined registration documents of the state's 6.5 million voters and was unable to match 612,955 records. Those included 506,763 active voters and 106,192 inactive voters. Inactive voters are citizens who have not voted in the past eight years.

    Veronica Degraffenreid, an elections liaison for the State Board of Elections who conducted the analysis, said the state board isn't saying that all of those voters don't have a driver's license or photo ID.

    "What we're saying is that we have no information to suggest that they do have a DMV ID," Degraffenreid said.

    The analysis notes that nearly two-thirds of those without a match are women. The analysis notes that women are more likely to change their last names based on marriage or divorce, which could account for the high number.

    Lewis questions the number, but says that the state will try to find a way to get photo IDs to voters who don't have them.

    "We're going to have to figure out how to get them a photo ID in their hand at no direct cost to them in order to have any chance at all to make sure that our bill is pre-cleared, that our bill can become law," Lewis said.

    Ross questioned how the state would be able to do that in tight budget times.

    "Where are they going to get that money," Ross said.

    Lewis notes that people 70 or older already can get a photo ID at the DMV at no cost. In addition, Lewis said that an expired driver's license would be sufficient to vote.
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