Local Politics

1M registered NC voters don't have photo ID

Posted February 4, 2011 1:14 p.m. EST
Updated February 4, 2011 2:49 p.m. EST

— A Republican-led effort to require North Carolina voters to present identification at the polls could hit a snag if lawmakers insist on a photo ID.

An analysis by the State Board of Elections obtained Friday by WRAL News shows that at least 700,000 registered voters in the state don't have a driver's license or photo ID issued by the Division of Motor Vehicles. Records for another 300,000 people need further checking to determine if they have a license, elections officials said.

That would mean the state would need to furnish photo IDs to about 1 million people so they could vote if the General Assembly approves voter identification legislation.

Legislation introduced last year would allow various forms of identification, including utility bills or bank statements, but lawmakers said they eventually hope to require a photo ID. A new bill on the issues hasn't yet been filed this session.

North Carolina has about 6.4 million registered voters.

Some argue that requiring identification might discriminate against the poor, the elderly and racial minorities, but GOP lawmakers said the move is meant only to eliminate any fraud at the polls.

The analysis shows that 508,000 registered Democrats, 277,000 Republicans and 219,000 unaffiliated voters lack a driver's license. About two-thirds of those without a license are women, and about two-thirds are white, the analysis shows. The breakdown is fairly even across age groups.

Elections officials say they don't plan to oppose a new bill like House Bill 430, as long as it mirrors the current law that calls for some form of identification to register to vote.

Requiring a photo ID would create more complications, officials said, noting that court rulings dictate IDs must be provided free to voters, which would require extra money and staff.