Gov. Bev Perdue has vetoed a controversial proposal to require voters to show photo ID at the polls.
“The right to choose our leaders is among the most precious freedoms we have – both as Americans and North Carolinians. North Carolinians who are eligible to vote have a constitutionally guaranteed right to cast their ballots, and no one should put up obstacles to citizens exercising that right.
“We must always be vigilant in protecting the integrity of our elections. But requiring every voter to present a government-issued photo ID is not the way to do it. This bill, as written, will unnecessarily and unfairly disenfranchise many eligible and legitimate voters. The legislature should pass a less extreme bill that allows for other forms of identification, such as those permitted under federal law.
“There was a time in North Carolina history when the right to vote was enjoyed only by some citizens rather than by all. That time is past, and we should not revisit it.
“Therefore, I veto this bill.”
Supporters of House Bill 351 argued it would restore voters’ confidence that their vote is secure. But critics pointed out that voter fraud is rarer than being struck by lightning, calling the bill “a solution in search of a problem.”
Some have accused the GOP of trying to depress turnout among low-income, elderly, African-American, students, and women voters – the groups most likely to not have a photo ID, many of whom are considered likely to support Obama’s re-election effort in 2012.
If it had become law, voting rights advocates say North Carolina's voter ID law would have been among the three strictest in the country.
The Voter ID bill passed both House and Senate along strict party lines, so a veto override seems unlikely.