Hall: Voter ID requirement would hurt seniors, Dems

Posted March 7, 2011 7:27 p.m. EST
Updated March 7, 2011 7:34 p.m. EST

A new report from political watchdog group Democracy NC says a Republican proposal to require photo ID at the voting booth would be a barrier to nearly half a million registered voters in North Carolina.

Last month, the State Board of Elections compared voter registration lists to drivers’ license records from the DMV, finding about a million names that didn’t match up. Supporters of voter ID were skeptical of that number, suggesting many on the list could be people who had changed their addresses or their names without updating their drivers’ licenses.

Democracy NC went through the list, weeding out cases where there was potential for clerical error or name/address mismatches.They were left with 460,500 registered voters that do not have a current driver’s license. That's about 8% of the state's "active voters." 

“There’s just a large number of people in NC that don’t have that,” said Democracy NC Director Bob Hall. “To put that level of requirement on voters is a barrier. And to try to solve it would be very expensive.” At $10 each, the current cost for a state photo ID, Hall says the bill could exceed $4.5 million.

Hall says about a third of those without current photo ID are senior citizens. “When they stop driving, they don't renew their drivers’ licenses,” Hall said. “What do they need it for? So they don't have a current ID anymore. That's the biggest group of people.”

He says the report shows a photo ID requirement would affect other voter groups disproportionately, too. “The numbers show that if you’re an African-American active voter, you’re almost 50% more likely not to have an ID than other active voters. It does break down on class, economics, race, gender, and party lines.”

According to the report, as many as 1 in 8 senior citizen voters has no photo ID, 1 in 9 African-American voters, and 1 in 10 women voters. More than half of all voters without photo ID are Democrats.