Voter ID amendment goes to voters

The November ballot will include six proposed constitutional amendments, including requiring a photo ID to vote.

Posted Updated
Election Day is Nov. 6, but early voting is underway
Travis Fain
, WRAL statehouse reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina voters will be asked this fall to add a photo identification requirement for voting to the state constitution.

The state Senate gave final approval to the proposal Friday on a party-line 33-12 vote.

There was little discussion on the floor for a bill that has been through multiple committees and floor votes this session and has been a hotly contested issue for years between legislative Democrats and the Republican majority.

This will be one of six proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot this November, and it takes a majority vote of the people to change the constitution. Voters will be asked to vote for or against a "constitutional amendment to require voters to provide photo identification before voting in person."

If they approve, this language will be added to the state constitution: "Voters offering to vote in person shall present photographic identification before voting. The General Assembly shall enact general laws governing the requirements of such photographic identification, which may include exceptions."

House Bill 1092 would let the legislature fill in the details of voter ID after the referendum. The General Assembly is slated to come back into session a few weeks after the November election to do so. Among the decisions they'll make if the amendment passes: What sort of IDs will be accepted at the polls.

The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union blasted the amendment Friday, comparing it to 2013 legislation that included voter ID that was thrown out by the federal courts for targeting minority voters.

"There is scant evidence of in-person voter fraud in North Carolina, but there is plenty of evidence that voter ID will limit access to voting for some of the state’s most marginalized voters, including people of color, rural and low-income voters, the elderly and people with disabilities, all of whom disproportionately lack and face challenges to getting a photo ID," the ACLU's Sarah Gillooly said in a statement. "North Carolina lawmakers have an ugly track record of enacting unnecessary and discriminatory voting restrictions, and this time they are passing the buck to voters by asking them to permanently change our state’s constitution."

Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, who chairs the Senate Elections Committee, said during a short Senate speech Friday that the issue should be left up to voters and that the integrity of the ballot box should be protected with some of the same ID rules people face in their daily lives.

Voter ID polls well in North Carolina, and Republican supporters have said repeatedly they expect this measure to pass.

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