Republicans press again to require photo ID at NC polls this year
Posted July 9, 2020 6:11 p.m. EDT
Updated July 9, 2020 6:37 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Legislative Republicans called on the courts Thursday to lift an injunction and require voter to present photo identification at the polls this November, saying a bill they passed earlier this year should satisfy the last arguments against the rule.
"It is past time for activist courts to stop blocking another commonsense elections policy that is required by North Carolina's constitution and a strong majority of other states," House Speaker Tim Moore said in a statement.
There are two lawsuits seeking – so far, successfully – to block the state's voter ID requirement: one state and one federal. Republican lawmakers filed a motion in the state case Thursday, asking judges to drop their injunction against the state's voter ID law.
They argued that a provision included in House Bill 1169 earlier this year should satisfy the court.
That bill dealt with a number of election issues, most of them geared toward tweaking election procedures to account for the coronavirus pandemic. It passed with broad bipartisan support.
It also included language adding a new category of IDs to the ones poll workers would accept: public assistance IDs.
That Republican lawmakers hadn't included those IDs in the bill they passed in late 2018 laying out voter ID rules was part of the court's rationale in blocking implementation this year.
"With the enactment of H.B. 1169, the General Assembly has adopted nearly every 'ameliorative' amendment proposed ... and it also has addressed the key shortcoming identified by the Court of Appeals," Moore's office said in its release.
This is the exact step some Democratic lawmakers said they feared when they backed off support for House Bill 1169 earlier this year: That the snippet of voter ID language would be used in court.
"That was the poison pill when they put that in," Rep. Marcia Morey, D-Durham, said Thursday.
The bill would allow public assistance IDs to be used at the polls, but only if they have a photograph on them, and it's not clear whether any do in North Carolina. The state Department of Health and Human Services confirmed that EBT cards don't, and Morey said she's not aware of any public assistance IDs that satisfy the bill's requirements.
"We looked into it, and we looked into Social Security cards, Medicaid, food stamps ... none of the cards have a photo," she said. "I think the whole issue is a fallacy."
Moore, R-Cleveland, said in his release that North Carolina's voter ID law is reasonable, noting voters can still cast ballots without IDs if they attest to a reasonable impediment that kept them from having one.
"North Carolina’s voter ID law also accommodates religious objectors, provides for free government-issued IDs and accepts driver’s licenses, passports, military and veteran IDs, student IDs, voter ID cards, as well as state and local government IDs," Moore's office said in the release.
"North Carolina's voter ID law allows IDs expired up to one year and allows voters whose ID expires after their 65th birthday to present any expired ID," the release states.
There are several other lawsuits pending in North Carolina that target various other election rules, and it may be some time before the state's election procedures are locked in for the Nov. 3 elections.