Editorial: Disguising voter suppression behind mask of voter ID
Posted May 26
A CBC Editorial: Friday, May 26, 2017; Editorial # 8166
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company
“All North Carolinians can rest assured that Republican legislators will continue fighting to protect the integrity of our elections by implementing the common sense requirement to show a photo ID when we vote.” –N.C. Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore
That is what the two most powerful men in the North Carolina General Assembly said two weeks ago after the U.S. Supreme Court let stand an appeals court order calling changes to the state’s voting laws an unconstitutional effort to “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”
We don’t disagree with Berger and Moore about protecting the integrity of elections or even a “common sense requirement” to provide identification when voting. The legislature should be able to come up with a fair and practical way to accomplish that.
The problem is that Berger and Moore are disguising the truth. If they really cared about identification, they could easily write a bill that would pass constitutional muster.
In reality, while the two TALK about voter ID, what they are DOING is voter suppression. The law the courts struck down was MORE about discouraging voting: reducing early and Sunday voting; eliminating same-day voter registration; ending pre-registration of teenagers; and disallowing out-of-precinct voting.
All that comes on top of efforts to make it difficult for certain groups of voters, such as students, to vote by moving polling places from convenient locations, like student unions, to more remote locations on the fringes of college campuses.
At a news conference following the Supreme Court’s action, state GOP Chairman Robin Hayes practically ignored the reason the court struck the law down: “No way does anyone want to suppress the vote. We’ll make sure more people vote. We’ll make sure they have the chance to vote legally and that someone else does not cast a vote that would cancel out their properly placed vote.” He ignores the supression provisions.
OK, let’s see if the legislature produces a bill that limits itself to voters identifying themselves at the polls. We won’t hold our breath.
One thing North Carolina voters should feel secure about is that our elections are fair and clean. The N.C. Board of Elections just proved it with an expensive, extensive review of the 2016 elections.
Of the nearly 4.8 million ballots recorded, it appears 508 were cast (about 1 one-hundredths-of-a-percent) by ineligible voters. That result is a credit to the basic honesty of citizens as well as the hard work and dedication of our state and local boards of elections, which must rely largely upon volunteers, and operate on shoe-string budgets under intense scrutiny.
Instead of cooking up ways to keep people away from the polls, North Carolina legislators should be working to get more people to vote. Of the state’s 6.9 million registered voters, 31 percent didn’t show up at the polls last November. There are 742,000 people of voting age in the state who are not even registered to vote. Getting ALL eligible citizens to participate should be the primary goal.
Sen. Berger and Speaker Moore -- make believers out of us, other North Carolinians and even the courts. Pass a REASONABLE bill to require identification at the polling place, skip the voter suppression and maybe even expand opportunities for citizens to register and vote while making polling places more convenient. We can all get behind that idea.
Then again, maybe the legislature will solve this as it does with most issues – cut some more corporate income taxes.