After an initial false start this morning, the House Appropriations committee tonight approved a final version of H351, the Voter ID bill.
The trimmed-down measure removes almost all of the compromise language sponsor Rep. David Lewis, R- Harnett, and others have been working on for months with Democratic critics who say the bill will keep some people from voting.
The new version doesn't require a "current and valid" driver's license, so voters would be able to use expired licenses. Those without acceptable ID would be able to get a photo ID for no charge at their county elections office. The measure would cost the state an estimated $2.1 million this fiscal year, according to legislative staff.
The measure would take effect January 1, 2012.
Lewis said he'd tried to strike a deal with Democrats up until the last minute. "That did not work."
Lewis says the current version of the bill "is based on the law that has passed in Georgia, and has been upheld by the courts in GA. When you go to vote, you wil be asked to show a photo ID."
Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, called the bill "patently discriminatory."
"The effect of this bill will be to disenfranchise potentially tens of thousands of North Carolinians," Glazier said. "This clearly is returning to the worst of all drafts."
The measure passed the committee on a strict party-line vote, and is expected to pass the House the same way tomorrow. But GOP leaders aren't optimistic about its chances down the line. Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R- Mecklenburg, said on Twitter the bill "will likely fall to the gov's veto pen."