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Tillis: Fraud 'not the primary reason' for voter ID push

Posted March 16, 2013
Updated March 17, 2013

State House Speaker Thom Tillis signaled what could be a change in messaging on voter ID Saturday – and dropped some hints about the details of upcoming legislation – during an appearance on MSNBC.

The left-leaning news channel might not seem like an intuitive choice for an appearance by Tillis, a Republican, but MSNBC has spent much of the day covering the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland.

Tillis was invited to appear to address his party's push for a photo voter ID law in North Carolina.

MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin quizzed Tillis about the scant evidence of actual voter fraud in the state, citing data from the State Board of Elections showing 310 documented cases of improper voting out of more than 4 million votes cast in 2008.   

"There is some evidence of voter fraud, but that's not the primary reason for doing this," Tillis told Melvin.

Thom Tillis on MSNBC Tillis on MSNBC: Voter ID restores confidence in elections

"We call this restoring confidence in government," Tillis said. "There are a lot of people who are just concerned with the potential risk of fraud."

He added a voter ID law "would make nearly three-quarters of the population more comfortable and more confident when they go to the polls." 

Public opinion polls regularly find high levels of support for voter ID among North Carolinians of both parties. An October WRAL News poll found 69 percent of registered voters would like to see a photo ID requirement put in place. A February Elon University Poll found support for voter ID at 72 percent statewide, with more than half of all Democrats and 92 percent of Republicans backing the idea.

Tillis said the legislation, which has not yet been made public, "also allows for expired drivers' licenses of senior citizens to be used, for college IDs as well as other government-issued IDs."

The types of identification the proposed law would accept haven't yet been publicly discussed. The bill isn't expected to be filed until next week.

The speaker also dismissed as "mostly ideological" warnings about disenfranchisement from critics, including state NAACP President Rev. William Barber.

Instead, Tillis suggested, the proposal might actually help voters who currently have no ID.

"There are a lot of people – young people and elders – who do not have IDs, and this measure provides broad access to IDs at no cost," he said. 

Tillis spoke to MSNBC from Charlotte.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger is attending CPAC. Both he and Tillis are considering runs for the GOP nomination for Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan's seat in 2014. Gov. Pat McCrory reportedly attended a fundraiser for Tillis Friday night in Charlotte.

86 Comments

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  • ConservativeVoter Mar 20, 6:38 p.m.

    Do what they do in Iraq.

    Only have one day of voting with no early voting and absentee ballots.

    Then have everybody dip their finger in a purple ink that you can't wash off when they vote. The only way to get this ink off is to wear it off.

    That would eliminate people voting illegally.

  • carolinarox Mar 19, 10:46 a.m.

    Tom should have kept his powder dry... We are waiting for the announcement of NC voter Fraud Prosecutions to be announced this week. Anyone find it funny why I have to ask permission and have an ID Card to carry a gun...but not to vote? seaweaver1

    Actually, we do provide identification when we register to vote, which should be sufficient. This is just another move to slow down the lines in the hopes some people will not stay in line to vote.

  • junkmail5 Mar 19, 10:25 a.m.

    I don't see what the problem is... you have to have id to open a bank account..get a library card... social security..just about everything else..I agree we should have it!
    trotter2047

    because none of the things you list are fundamental constitutional rights.

    You do NOT need an ID to exercise freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to not testify against yourself, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, etc...

  • trotter2047 Mar 19, 9:45 a.m.

    I don't see what the problem is... you have to have id to open a bank account..get a library card... social security..just about everything else..I agree we should have it!

  • uBnice Mar 19, 8:46 a.m.

    Mr Tillis, are you serious? He has such contempt for the voting public.

  • cdancyii Mar 18, 10:07 p.m.

    Funny how some want to compare Voter ID to being ID'ed to purchase a gun. Voting does not kill while guns do so there need to be traceability to someone who uses a gun to kill someone.

  • unc70 Mar 18, 5:14 p.m.

    There is no requirement in the US Constitution that you have to be a citizen to be allowed to vote. That restriction is at the state level. The Federal requirement protects the rights of citizens to vote. Interestingly, since non-citizens are counted in the apportioning of Congrssional districts, etc., if a State were to allow permanent president aliens to vote, it would be legal and have no effect on other states.

    Many US citizens vote in other countries. The easiest and most common now is probably Italy.

  • Mon Account Mar 18, 4:22 p.m.

    Step 1: drum up fear. Step 2: create unnecessary legislation. Step 3: hope no one noticed the back-door dealings going on in the meantime.

  • DoingMyBest Mar 18, 4:10 p.m.

    "as a green card holder for many years I had a driving license just like yours and I could have voted if I had wished to break the law to do so."

    And how could you have officially voted. your name wouldn't have been on the registered voting role list, unless it was provisional, which wouldn't have checked out..

  • seaweaver1 Mar 18, 2:14 p.m.

    Tom should have kept his powder dry...
    We are waiting for the announcement of NC voter Fraud Prosecutions to be announced this week.
    Anyone find it funny why I have to ask permission and have an ID Card to carry a gun...but not to vote?

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