Local Politics

Requiring ID to vote could leave some behind at polls

Posted January 17, 2011

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— Republican lawmakers say requiring identification at the polls is a common-sense way to prevent voter fraud, but critics argue the move would open the door to discrimination.

House Bill 430 would require voters to present some sort of identification, such as a driver's license or Social Security card. Currently, people have to show identification only when they register to vote for the first time.

"People coming from out of state are somewhat flabbergasted of how little ID is required," incoming House Minority Leader Paul Stam said.

The incoming Republican leadership at the General Assembly plans to follow the lead of 27 other states that require some form of identification to vote.

"It's a no-brainer. People don't mind providing a photo ID. It's not a problem. They expect to do it. We ought to do it," said Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake.

Voting rights advocates acknowledge most people already need identification to get by in society, but they contend that voting is different.

"Driving or going to the bank, these are all privileges in society, whereas voting is a right," said Damon Circosta, executive director of the North Carolina Center for Voter Education. "We have to make sure whenever we're doing something with voting (that) we're taking into account everybody in the system."

The pending legislation would allow various forms of identification, including utility bills or bank statements, but lawmakers said they eventually hope to require a photo ID.

Neighboring South Carolina and Virginia accept a variety of IDs, while more stringent states like Georgia and Florida require a photo ID. Voters without one in those states can cast a provisional ballot, but it doesn't count until an ID is shown.

Voter generic, voting generic, polling place, casting ballot Requiring ID to vote could leave some behind at polls

Atiba Ellis, a professor at West Virginia University who specializes in voting rights law, said research has shown a small percentage of voters don't have current identification.

"(It's) because they're poor, because they're elderly. (It's) largely also racial minorities," said Ellis, a native of eastern North Carolina. "How many people would be effectively excluded by those IDs?"

A study in South Carolina estimates 178,000 of the state's 2.6 million registered voters don't have a state-issued photo ID. North Carolina has more than 6 million registered voters, but there are no estimates as to how many lack a photo ID.

Bob Hall, executive director of political watchdog group Democracy North Carolina, said the state doesn't have a major voter fraud problem. It does, however, have a history of discrimination in voting requirements like the poll tax and literacy test, he said.

"We don't need an additional burden," Hall said. "(Restrictions like identification rules have) been done as a way to disenfranchise voters that the ruling party doesn't like. It's a power grab, and that's why this is very concerning."

Hunt called that allegation "ridiculous," saying that an ID requirement only ensures voters are who they say they are.

Wake County Board of Elections officials said the most common complaint they hear from voters is why people aren't required to show an ID to vote. State election officials said they don't plan to oppose House Bill 430, as long as it mirrors the current law that calls for some form of identification to register to vote.

"In terms of causing any major problems, I don't think it would," said Larry Leake, chairman of the State Board of Elections.

Leake said requiring a photo ID would create more complications. Court rulings dictate they must be provided free to voters, he noted, which would require extra money and staff.

193 Comments

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  • mark27 Jan 18, 6:44 p.m.

    With hundreds of thousands of illegal/undocumented people in NC and organizations like ACORN polluting the electoral system, it seems logical to require people to show a (free)State recognized photo ID. Maybe a statewide referendum on the subject should be put before the people...then the 'left' can experience yet another thumping.

  • renaissancemon Jan 18, 6:07 p.m.

    > The constitution does not say you have the right to vote.

    Yes it does. "Every person born in the United States and every person who has been naturalized, 18 years of age, and possessing the qualifications set out in this Article, shall be entitled to vote at any election by the people of the State, except as herein otherwise provided."

  • renaissancemon Jan 18, 6:04 p.m.

    > Quit complainig about who is getting picked on

    Quit presuming guilt. Quit making me prove myself innocent of felonies like voter fraud when you have zero evidence against me. Mind your own business.

  • renaissancemon Jan 18, 6:02 p.m.

    > It should be required by state law, that if you are over the age of 16 you have a photo ID of some sort.

    You don't say why. So let me try to figure out where you draw the line. How about making people tatoo their SSN on their arm, like the Nazis branded Jews? Would that be okay with you too?

  • Plenty Coups Jan 18, 5:36 p.m.

    jlhpcarew-plenty coups - "you just wants to make excuses for people not doing what they should do. These are the same people that probably live off the taxpayer. "

    What is doing "what they should"? Pay money to get a picture ID so they can vote? The constitution prohibits this so maybe from their perspective they shouldn't have to. Again, the constitution backs them.

    "Interesting that they can get whereever they need to in order to pick up their checks, food stamps, section 8 housing, utility assistance, etc.."

    These aren't guaranteed in the constitution. You're comparing apples to oranges.

  • Plenty Coups Jan 18, 5:30 p.m.

    gunny-------------------------------------------------------
    --------------------------

    "I'm still waiting for any solid proof of widespread voter fraud"

    "Type: Acorn, voter registration, and fraud."

    Sorry gunny, I've already addressed that myth. There is a big difference between some workers signing made up names to get paid (voter registration fraud) and actual voter fraud. You can do better. PLease provide an actual link proving me wrong.

    http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/acorn_accusations.html

  • jlhpcarew Jan 18, 4:52 p.m.

    plenty coups - you just wants to make excuses for people not doing what they should do. These are the same people that probably live off the taxpayer. Interesting that they can get whereever they need to in order to pick up their checks, food stamps, section 8 housing, utility assistance, etc.. Don't they need ID for that? If you want to exercise your right to vote, then do the MINIMAL amount of work that SHOULD be required - get an ID card.

  • renaissancemon Jan 18, 4:52 p.m.

    The Constitution says no property qualification shall affect the right to vote. Requiring me to physically possess some document is a property requirement. If you think this is a good idea, propose it as a constitutional amendment, not a statute.

  • dhowell Jan 18, 4:35 p.m.

    We have to show ID for just about everything else, even to open a bank account so why not to vote.

  • gunny462 Jan 18, 4:24 p.m.

    "Bob Hall, executive director of political watchdog group Democracy North Carolina, said the state doesn't have a major voter fraud problem"

    Uhhh, Did this guy ever hear of google? Type NC, Voter Fraud.
    2,830,000 results!

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