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@NCCapitol

House committee takes up voter ID proposal

Posted April 10, 2013

— The House Elections Committee on Wednesday continued the deliberate process Republicans mapped out for their plan to get legislation approved that would require voters to present photo identification at the polls.

The committee held its second four-hour public hearing to receive comments about voter ID. Last month, opponents of the idea packed the meeting, but speakers at Wednesday's hearing were overwhelmingly in favor of IDs.

"Stop the fraud, restore integrity to voting and support voter photo ID," said John Garrett, chairman of the Halifax County Republican Party, who was among dozens wearing white "ID ME!!!" stickers on their lapels.

Members of a group known as the Voter Integrity Project detailed various cases of voter fraud, including five people who voted in both North Carolina and Florida and a 2012 ballot cast in the name of a Charlotte-area man who died five years earlier. They argued that voter fraud is seen as nonexistent in North Carolina because cases are rarely prosecuted.

A handful of people who said they have served as poll workers described instances of a woman voting multiple times, students using friends' addresses to register to vote and people showing up at the polls with voters' names on strips of paper.

"I don't want to give up my vote to someone who's not legally voting," Wake County resident Mike Binney said.

House Bill 589 calls for the photo ID requirement to start in 2016. It would allow people to present various state-issued IDs, such as tribal cards, public university IDs and state employee IDs, but private university IDs would not qualify.

People sound off on voter ID plan People sound off on voter ID (part 1)

People sound off on voter ID plan (part 2) People sound off on voter ID (part 2)

Approved forms of IDs that have expired would be accepted up to 10 years from their date of issuance or date of expiration, whichever is later. For voters over 70, a photo ID that was valid at the time they were 70 will be considered valid indefinitely.

Voters without a photo ID will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot but would have to return to their local board of elections with a valid photo ID to have the ballot counted.

Some speakers at the public hearing called for even stricter requirements, such as disallowing student IDs or expired IDs and outlawing one-stop registration and voting.

"The bill before you is as weak as water," said Don Yelton of Buncombe County. "You've got too many ways for them to get their IDs."

Voter ID opponents were far outnumbered but were no less passionate than supporters.

Vickie Boyer of Orange County said requiring an ID to vote turns the American tenet of "innocent until proven guilty" on its head.

"It replaces voters in charge of the government to the government being in charge of the voters," Boyer said.

Other speakers complained that the restrictions are tighter for people trying to vote in person than for those casting mail-in absentee ballots. The bill would allow absentee voters to submit a driver's license number, the final four digits of a Social Security number or other federally-approved identification documents like a copy of a utility bill.

"Why is a utility bill, bank statement or payroll stub acceptable for absentee voters but not for someone who votes in person?" asked Lee Mortimer of Durham County. "There can be no explanation other than you want to make it harder for people to vote."

NAACP assails voter ID bill

Earlier in the day, bill sponsors presented the "Voter Information Verification Act," or VIVA, to the committee and answered some preliminary questions. The committee is expected to hold a full debate of the proposal next week before voting on it.

Rev. William Barber, state president of the NAACP, assailed the bill during a committee hearing, saying it marks a return to "Old South policies" that marked the poor and minorities for discrimination.

"Those of you pushing this bill are scared of true democracy," Barber said, arguing that calls for a voter ID bill surfaced only after the numbers of black and Latino voters surged in recent years.

"Let the people vote," he said.

House committee discusses voter ID House committee discusses voter ID

A disproportionate number of black, elderly and female voters don't have a photo ID, Barber said, and he rebutted arguments that many daily activities now require such proof of identity by noting that they are only privileges and not a constitutionally protected right.

"(You) are leading this state down a dangerous path," he said. "We have already fought these battles."

Jerry Bonnet, a lawyer for the Indiana Secretary of State's Office, told the House committee that cases of people being unable to vote in that state because of its voter ID requirements are practically nonexistent.

"Projections and studies that prognosticated many individuals not being able to vote, widespread voter disenfranchisement, different types of doom and gloom – that isn't what happened," Bonnet said.

Given the difficulty of removing names from bloated voter rolls, he said, voter ID laws are the easiest way to ensure elections are free of cases in which people might be casting votes in others' names.

Indiana provides free IDs to anyone over 16 who doesn't have one, he said.

North Carolina's proposal would require people attest under the penalty of perjury that they have a "financial hardship" in order to get a free voter ID – as well as free copy of a birth certificate to establish their identity for the ID. "Financial hardship" isn't defined in the bill, however, and some have suggested that provision could be construed as an unconstitutional poll tax.

Lawmakers don't yet have a projected cost for the voter ID proposal, including providing free IDs and birth certificates, hiring 14 employees for a new Voter Information Verification Agency, which would work with counties to promote the ID requirement and assist voters and creating a statewide digital database of photos, perhaps using facial recognition software, that could make carrying an ID to the polls unnecessary.

53 Comments

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  • teleman60 Apr 11, 9:59 a.m.

    Just curious--did I miss something or did my use of my voter registration card for 40 years make every election since 1971 fraudulent?

    Why is this an issue now any more than before there was a black president?

    Why wasn't it a MUST DO issue during Bush and Cheney?

    Why now? There is no real provable election swinging fraud evidence of THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS OF VOTES -- so WHY???

  • beef Apr 11, 9:48 a.m.

    "Just put photos on EBT cards and problem solved:

    That is an EXCELLENT idea. For many reasons.

  • beef Apr 11, 9:47 a.m.

    "These people apparently won't be happy with showing an ID to vote, they now want to monitor the competency of the voter. What next?"

    Strawman, anyone?

  • beef Apr 11, 9:45 a.m.

    "ID's for voting, what a novel idea!"

    It is the norm in Canada, Europe, and most of the US. Even the UN observers the President brought in thought it was odd we did not universally require IDs.

  • beef Apr 11, 9:41 a.m.

    The more the libs squirm, the more I am convinced this has to be done. Under any other circumstances, they would wholeheartedly embrace free IDs for the poor. They would never kick like this to fight a freebie from the government. There has to be something there.

    As far a cost is concerned, I would be happy to add a couple of bucks to the DL fee to fund this. It would be money better spent than most that goes to this state.

  • Crumps Br0ther Apr 11, 7:46 a.m.

    Why does the GOP like to waste money so much anyway?
    junkmail5

    What about all those liberal money pit entitlement programs that have never worked to begin to with? but you cant mess with those because someone might starve. Yah right

  • Crumps Br0ther Apr 11, 7:44 a.m.

    All of you are so concerned about the poor why dont you get them IDs you have no problem giving them everything elsem but you always stop short on this issue. Just put photos on EBT cards and problem solved. Your opposition to this shows there is more too it than you want to talk about.

  • junkmail5 Apr 10, 11:23 p.m.

    "if you earn less than 25,000 a year (total) you are not taxed on social security"

    You've got to love the optimisim from libs!
    Proud Black Constitutionalist

    I know you hate facts, but I'm afraid this is yet another place I'm presenting them and you are simply wrong in denying them.

    http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/493/~/paying-income-tax-on-social-security-benefits

    You will have to pay Federal taxes on your Social Security benefits if you file a Federal tax return as an individual and your total income is more than $25,000. If you file a joint return, you will have to pay taxes if you and your spouse have a total income of more than $32,000.

    If you earn less- no taxes.

    And SS by itself is generally under those amounts. So if your only income is SS, and money from a retirement account you won't owe taxes on (like a ROTH) you'd pay no taxes...and be denied the right to vote under your weird, unconstitutional, suggestion.

  • junkmail5 Apr 10, 11:12 p.m.

    Now, I agree that there are some (a relatively few individuals at that) who have NO picture ID. Thats few and far between among legal American citizens. -josephlawrence43

    Except that's not true at all.

    Every state that has done a comparison of voter records against DMV records has found 7-10% of ALL registered voters in the state lack valid photo ID.

    That's millions of people in larger states... a good half million people in our own.

    That's hardly 'relatively few'

    Students old enough to vote usually have student id's- josephlawrence43

    Which aren't valid under the new NC law unless they're from a state school. So too bad for those going to any place else.

    Plus the GOP has ANOTHER law to jack them out of voting, by making it illegal for their parents to claim them as dependents if they vote where they live most of the year (at college) rather than at their parents address.

    it is still a huge HOLE that needs to be closed- truthbknown

    An imaginary problem is a "huge hole"?

  • Terkel Apr 10, 9:38 p.m.

    "A disproportionate number of black, elderly and female voters don't have a photo ID, Barber said, and he rebutted arguments that many daily activities now require such proof of identity by noting that they are only privileges and not a constitutionally protected right."

    First, he'd better have meant elderly black women, because I'm angry at HIS prejudiced, bigoted, sexist excuse that women can't obtain ID by themselves.

    Second, what a remarkably stupid straw argument. Is he saying that yes, it's true we need ID for most activities, and the fact that blacks, with everyone else, will have to show ID at the polls is equivalent to lynching blacks?

    Willie, hon, you're insulting and confused. Go away.

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