North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore announced last week that the N.C. General Assembly will introduce a constitutional amendment requiring voter identification to cast a ballot in North Carolina.
If passed, the proposal would be placed on the November 2018 general election ballot.
House Bill 1092 would require that “every person offering to vote in person shall present photo identification before voting.”
Moore, a Cleveland County Republican, claims the proposal is a common sense way to “secure the integrity of our elections system.”
A similar move in 2013 didn’t make much sense — common or otherwise — to civil rights groups or the courts, who argued that measure disenfranchises some voters.
Opponents said that H589 disproportionately impacted voters of color, students, low-income voters, the elderly, people with disabilities, and rural residents.
That law also shortened the state’s popular early voting period by a full week, eliminated same-day registration, prevented out-of-precinct ballots from being counted, and ended a successful pre-registration program for 16- and 17-year-olds.
“Is it any wonder that [minority communities] are genuinely concerned that a voter ID requirement is just one more in a long line of measures to limit their right to vote?” Republican Former Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr recently told The Charlotte Observer. “Let’s put this proposal on the shelf as simply the right thing to do.”
In July 2016, U.S. Court of Appeals struck down the 2013 law saying that it violated Constitutional and statutory bans on intentional discrimination, and that it “targeted African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”
Scotland County’s state lawmaker Garland Pierce used many of the same arguments as the court in opposing past and present requirements for voter identification.
But state Rep. Pierce is also a realist. He knows that a majority of North Carolinians favor some type of voter ID.
A recent Civitas Poll showed that 69 percent would support such an amendment. A Gallup Poll from August 2016 found 80 percent support for voter ID, with 95 percent approval from Republicans, 83 percent from independents, and 63 percent from Democrats.
The Wagram Democrat suspects that the real motive for reviving the issue is to attract a larger number of conservative voters to the polls in November to help shore up the chances of Republicans.
But regardless of why the voter ID proposal is back, Pierce expects it to gain approval.
He said the best defense — pending some future legal challenge — is to try to make lemonade out of this legislative lemon.
The answer in the short term is to find out what kinds of identification that voters will be allowed and make sure that all citizens have IDs and that they vote.