Voter ID bill filed

Posted March 14, 2011 8:07 p.m. EDT
Updated March 15, 2011 12:12 p.m. EDT

I just got a copy of the "Restore Confidence in Government" bill. It's House Bill 351, sponsored by House Elections Chair David Lewis, R-Harnett, Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and Rep. Ric Killian, R-Mecklenburg. It should be available online later this evening. It'll be debated at Tuesday's House Elections committee meeting, 2 to 6 p.m. in Room 643. 

The bill does require government-issued photo ID in almost all cases. It would offer free voter ID cards to those who don't have other acceptable forms of identification. The requirement would take effect as of the 2012 primaries.

It does a few other things, too:

  • Requires candidates and treasurers to immediately report violations that could result in a criminal penalty (rather than waiting for the regular  campaign finance reporting deadline). 
  • Makes a candidate personally liable for civil penalties assessed against his or her campaign committee if the candidate was informed of the violation and didn't correct it.  Right now, there is no personal liability for Elections Board fines.
  • Bans the practice of paying voter registration canvassers on a per-registration basis.
  • Bans political contributions of more than $1000 from vendors who hold large state contracts to the officials who award those contracts.  This is a big one, and potentially contentious.
  • Limits the chairmanship of the State Elections Board to no more than two two-year terms.

Several of these provisions have been discussed in the past – for example, after the Easley hearing, state Elections Chairman Larry Leake called for candidates to be liable for civil penalties – but they faced too much opposition among the former majority Democrats.  It'll be interesting to see which ones change, and how they change, as the measure moves through the House and Senate.