WRAL News poll: NC wants voter IDs

Posted October 2, 2012 10:30 p.m. EDT
Updated October 3, 2012 3:38 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina voters overwhelmingly want people to present some form of identification at the polls before casting a ballot, according to a WRAL News poll released Tuesday.

SurveyUSA polled 641 registered voters statewide between Saturday and Monday and found that 69 percent want to require a photo ID to vote, while another 10 percent want an ID that doesn't necessarily have a photo. Only 16 percent said voters shouldn't have to present an ID at the polls.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

The idea seems to have support across the political spectrum, with 90 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of Democrats and two-thirds of independents calling for a photo voter ID.

When examined through the lens of the presidential campaign, however, partisan fault lines start to appear.

Among supporters of Republican nominee Mitt Romney, 93 percent support photo ID, and just 4 percent say no ID should be needed. Meanwhile, only 46 percent of President Barack Obama's supporters want to see a photo ID for voters, while 29 percent want no ID.

The topic has been highly politicized. Republicans say photo IDs are needed to prevent voter fraud, but Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue vetoed a voter ID bill passed last year by GOP lawmakers.

Gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory urged voters this spring to take IDs to the polls to make a point. U.S. Sen. Richard Burr says requiring identification is just common sense.

"You can't cash a check without photo ID. Is the threshold for voting less than the threshold for cashing a check?" Burr said Tuesday.

Democratic leaders and civil rights groups say there's a big difference – cashing a check is not a constitutional right.

Bob Hall, executive director of political watchdog group Democracy North Carolina, said requiring a photo ID would stop people from exercising their right to vote.

"There are about 400,000 people that do not have a photo ID," Hall said. "Most of them are elderly, (and) they've stopped driving. They're disproportionately African-American. They're poor, more often than not."

The threat of voter impersonation is a fiction, he said, noting that study after study has found only a handful of cases nationwide.

Johnnie McLean, deputy director of the State Board of Elections, said most voter fraud involves registrations, double voting or mail-in ballots. Supporters of photo IDs may not realize that what they want at the polls wouldn't stop any of those problems, she said.

"I think that what it's going to produce is simply a perceived level of comfort to those people," McLean said.