@NCCapitol

Voter ID bill heads back to the House

Posted June 15, 2011 9:26 p.m. EDT
Updated June 15, 2011 10:32 p.m. EDT

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— North Carolina lawmakers are moving ahead with legislation to require people to show a photo identification card before voting.

The Senate approved the legislation in a 31-19 vote that went down party lines Wednesday evening.

The bill is expected to go to the House on Thursday. The measure passed once in House already, but by a margin too small to override a potential veto by Gov. Beverly Perdue.

Perdue, a Democrat, has indicated she might veto the measure.

Republicans made the legislation part of their campaign platform last fall as they took control of both the House and Senate for the first time in 140 years, and GOP leaders of other states are pushing similar legislation.

“Requiring voters to show a photo ID will boost their confidence and increase participation at the polls – two things the governor should join most North Carolinians in supporting. If she is serious about protecting the integrity of elections instead of scoring political points with her liberal base, she will sign this bill," Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said in a statement Wednesday.

Democrats and voting rights advocates say the voter ID legislation is a veiled attempt to suppress voting among blacks, older adults and women. It's already a felony for someone to vote using someone else's name.

"They are trying to limit democracy and abridge the right to vote," state NAACP president Rev. William Barber said. 

Currently, voters just need to provide their name and address to get a ballot. 

"You are not curing a problem, you are making it difficult for people to vote," Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake County, said. 

The state has about 556,000 registered voters who don't have identification issued by DMV, but it's unclear how many have alternative forms of qualifying IDs, according to researchers who work for the General Assembly.

Francis DeLuca, of the conservative Civitas Institute, supports the measure. He said that anyone who can make it out to the polls can make it out to get an ID. 

"Voting was never meant to be completely painless," he said. 

Damon Circosta, executive director of the N.C. Center for Voter Education, called the bill a "solution in search of a problem, and a poor solution at that."

"In reality, the photo ID requirement in House Bill 351 would do little to improve the security of our election system. Rather, it would only place undue burdens on law-abiding North Carolina citizens, especially older voters, for whom getting a state-issued photo ID may be unfairly difficult," Circosta said in a statement. 

Under the bill, people could make a provisional vote without an ID, but would have to show an ID later for it to be counted or sign an affidavit.

The bill is modeled on a 2006 law in Georgia, which has been upheld by the courts.