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Voter ID veto stands, for now

Posted July 26, 2011
Updated July 27, 2011

House Democrats headed off an override today of Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of H351, a provision that would require all NC voters to show state-issued photo identification before voting at the polls. But their victory could be temporary.

Voter ID has been one of the most thoroughly and hotly debated issues of the legislative year so far. And with the override attempt coming on the heels of a heated hour of debate on the abortion limits override, tempers were higher than ever this afternoon.

One Democrat after another stood to speak against the bill, mostly members of the Legislative Black Caucus, who say the ID requirement will disproportionately affect black voters, as well as students, the elderly, and women – the groups most likely to not have a driver’s license.

Rep. Alma Adams, D-Guilford, told the House, “I’m partial caregiver to my 86-year-old mother who does not drive anymore, who does not have a drivers license. She’s just one of the many people this bill will impact.”

Adams said the measure won’t restore confidence in government, as its title promises. “There is no justification or data to support the idea that there is a problem with voter fraud in North Carolina,” said Adams. “This bill is about control. Controlling the outcome of the next presidential election.”

“If you’re black like me,” she added, “you need an ID.”

Other Democrats rose to echo Adams’s argument.

Minority Leader Joe Hackney cited statistics from 2008. “With over 4.3 million votes cast, there were 40 cases of irregularity. Most turned out to be some sort of clerical error. This is a bill in search of a problem.”

Rep. Kelly Alexander, D-Mecklenburg, told his colleagues he was a click away from buying a fake drivers’ license online from the House floor. He said the voter ID bill “can be subverted by anybody with a credit card and a computer. And there’s absolutely no way on God’s green earth that an election official in Podunk, NC can tell the difference.”

“Why are we wasting our time?” Alexander asked.

But Rep. Jonathan Jordan, R-Ashe, compared voter fraud to a tree falling in the forest. “If someone votes in your name and no one reports it, has voter fraud occurred? It’s really easy to do,” he said, especially with voters who have died.

Rep. Marilyn Avila, R-Wake, said the measure might help clean up the voter registration rolls, which she said are full of people who no longer live where elections officials think they do. “But if somebody’s got their name and their address, they can go down and vote,” Avila said. “There are more and more people on our voter rolls who are no longer where they say they are, and there are people who know that.”

And Rep. Dale Folwell, R-Forsyth, pointed out that you need photo ID to be allowed to panhandle in Winston-Salem. “I ask you to do the common-sense thing,” Folwell.said. “People will realize that their vote counts.”

Head-to-head

Tensions hit a high point when Rep. Rodney Moore, D-Mecklenburg, rose to speak. He doesn’t often weigh in on debates, but he said he took this one personally.

“This bill is an insult to me. It’s an insult to the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King,” Moore said. “I feel like my rights have been raped.”

“This is purely, purely an attempt at voter suppression, it’s an attempt at disenfranchisement, and I’m ashamed that this bill is being considered for an override.”

That offended Rep. Jeff Collins, R-Nash.

“I’m sorry that some of you had your vote suppressed in the past. A lot of my constituents feel like their votes aren’t counted today. They feel like they’re disenfranchised,” Collins said.

“I’ve sat here for months and been insulted by members of the other party,” Collins continued. “I’ve took it about all I’m gonna take it."

“You can question my motives all you want to,” Collins added, “but if you’re voting against this bill, I’m questioning your motives,” adding that if voter fraud was benefiting Democrats, he wasn’t surprised Democrats were opposed to voter ID.

It wasn’t long after that that Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, called the question, shutting down the debate over Democrats’ protests.

Not dead yet

The vote on the veto override was 67-52, five short of the 72 votes needed.

All Democrats voted against the override, as well as one Republican: Skip Stam. Not because he changed his mind on the bill, but for strategic reasons.

Under House rules, any member who voted on the side of a bill that won the vote can move to reconsider the vote. Stam’s vote against the override put him on the prevailing side, and that's exactly what he did, recalling the measure and then leaving it in limbo to be reconsidered another day.

Democrats protested the move. “Don’t you agree it is time for these contentious issues to be decided and put to rest and to get to other stuff?” asked Hackney.

But Stam defended his move as “standard procedure in Washington,” and said Democrats who voted with their caucus “might think differently later.”

“It’s not settled till it’s settled right,” Stam said.

6 Comments

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  • marktroll Aug 1, 9:03 a.m.

    no no no. this means that all the homeless people that will be disenfanchised by this bill will have to keep panhandling. and to do so, they had to go downtown and show the pd a photo id.

  • skeeter II Jul 28, 5:14 p.m.

    Does this mean we can refuse to show a photo ID when we cash a check or use a credit Card?????????

    I do not think some people have thought this issue out enough to say we do not need a low requiring a photo ID to vote, especially when the state was going to provide a photo ID to those that do not have a driving license.

    Remember when "some" illegals got drivers licenses when they did not understand English and came with their own interpreter! How do we know that the interpreter was converting the questions into spanish correctly and not just answering the questions correctly for the illegal????

    Think about the food stamp issue -- they have a debit or credit card which has the money put into their account each month! How do we know when they are no longer eligible to continue receiving food stamps??

    We have changed the way the state did things to "reduce cost" but have ended up with additional new problems.

    Think about it!!!!!!!!!!

  • csstower Jul 28, 4:06 p.m.

    Please mccoy, don't even open the can of worms on the nonsense bills proposed or pushed through by your beloved dems....
    treadmills for shrimp?? REALLY???
    And picking at Rep. Collins' grammar? REALLY?!?!
    When you are as agitated as he was that day (I wish I had been there, I heard it was AWESOME!!), I am sure you are perfect in your language mechanics, and he was simply FED UP with all the b/s the dems had been crying and bellyaching over, even to the point of name calling and innuendo....

    The dems need to grow up. They have been destroying all they can to benefit their lobbyists and special interests for WAY too long now, and it is time for the DEMS to "sit in the back and be quiet".

  • griper1 Jul 28, 12:47 p.m.

    without an ID, what is to stop someone from voting as many times as he/she can...5000 seems like a drop in the bucket...

  • chevybelair57sd Jul 27, 10:13 a.m.

    How many people will "risk a felony arrest? the same ones who "risked" coming into this country illegally!! Our voting registry is full of holes and asking for photo ID is a deterant, if the people want to vote getting one is a minor task. I feel an IQ test should be required.

  • pattersonmccoy Jul 27, 9:28 a.m.

    Shouldn't someone tell Mr. Collins that it's "I've taken" rather than "I've took?" I'm sure he wouldn't want to sound uneducated, especially about his justification for this voter identification bill.

    With almost a half-million North Carolinians currently lacking a valid id under this bill, if even 1% of them failed to get the requisite id--in truth, the percentage would be higher--that would be almost 5000 voters. And for no demonstrable reason, merely an anecdotal and partisan one.

    Voter fraud is a felony. How many persons are going to risk a felony arrest to cast a lone vote? Very few, that's how many. This bill is nonsense, and shame on the entire Republican caucus for voting for it.