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Make the call against Voter ID

Jeremy Sprinkle
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Tell lawmakers to vote 'NO' on HB 589

Having won election and control of our state legislature in 2010 and having also won the governor's mansion in 2012 on one set of rules, state Republicans now want to change the rules to make it harder for voters to get rid of them in the future. That ain't right, but that's what Voter ID is all about.

State House Bill 589, which would require voters to present a photo ID before being allowed to cast their ballots, will be voted on in the House next week. We need you to call your state representative and tell him or her to vote 'NO' on HB 589.

Click here to look up who represents you and get his or her phone number or if you already know call 919-733-7928 and ask to be directed.

Now let's be clear: the Republican majority on Jones Street has the votes to pass this bill.  But having the power to do something doesn't make it the right thing to do. Making it harder for citizens to exercise their civic duty to vote and hold politicians accountable is the wrong thing for lawmakers to do. We cannot be silent in the face of oppression.

Think about this for a second...

We can guess what some of you (or your Facebook friends) think about voter ID because we've heard the same song by supporters all along.

1. You can't buy a beer without showing an ID, so what's the big deal about doing it to vote?

Buying beer isn't a constitutional right generations of Americans struggled and even died to secure - but voting is. If people make the effort to exercise their right and responsibility to vote, shouldn't we be guaranteeing that their vote will be counted?

2. Voter fraud is bad, so wouldn't Voter ID stop it?

Voter fraud is bad, but the only possible type of voter fraud that a photo ID might prevent is in-person voter impersonation fraud - one person pretending to be one voter he or she is not - something so pointless and ineffective there have been only ten cases of such fraud anywhere in the country over the last TEN YEARS!

Furthermore, if we all assume criminals don't obey laws, any criminal voter impersonator would be perfectly capable of securing a FAKE ID, in which case Voter ID fixes nothing.

Finally, if Republican lawmakers are to be believed that voter fraud is so rampant in North Carolina that citizens must be required to show a photo ID to vote, which one of these same lawmakers is willing to admit they won their election because of fraud?

[sound of crickets]

Click here to download the information below as a fact sheet from our friends at Democracy North Carolina.

Why oppose photo ID for voters?

It may seem like common sense to some people, but requiring voters to show a government issued photo ID before voting is a bad idea. Here’s why:

Voters choose politicians, not the other way around: Voter ID is just one voting restriction among many that politicians in states across the country are pushing as part of a partisan agenda to create laws that could disenfranchise millions of eligible voters. It’s wrong for politicians to place restrictions on eligible voters for their own personal gain.

Preventing voter fraud is important, but voter ID could disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters in the name of election integrity. In North Carolina, the State Board of Elections reports that upwards of 500,000 people may not have a driver’s license or state issued ID card. People who often move, lower‐income adults, seniors who don’t drive and women who change their names after marriage are all less likely to have current ID. The bottom line is that no eligible voter should be turned away from the polls because they don't have a certain type ID.

Voter ID unfairly impacts some voters far more than others. The new push for voter ID laws and other restrictions mirror past efforts to intentionally create barriers to the ballot box for some groups, particularly African Americans and poor whites. Whether voter ID laws are intended to discriminate or not, the truth is that they do. In North Carolina,

• African Americans are 22% of all active registered voters, but they are 31% of the active registered voters who do not have a NC photo ID.

• Women are 54% of active voters, but 66% of those without a NC photo ID.

• Seniors are 18% of active voters, but 26% of those without a NC photo ID.

• Youth are 13% of active voters, but 16% of those without a NC photo ID.

Voter ID isn't free: If Voter ID is required, the state must provide free ID to anyone who doesn't have it. That cost alone could be in the millions. If local elections boards are tasked with providing the free IDs, the cost of making those falls on county budgets, which are already strapped in this economic climate. Is Voter ID really worth increasing property taxes or diverting money from education or other needed public programs?

There are hidden costs as well: Even if voters who currently lack ID were given free ID, they still have to pay for the legal documents needed to get ID, such as a birth certificate or social security card. These documents can be hard to obtain and cost money. It also costs money (and time) to get to the DMV, the social security administration, or a county records department to obtain these documents. For low‐income voters, these barriers are significant and unfair.

Does is really stop fraud? Photo ID for in person voters doesn't stop honest mistakes or fraud caused by errors in voter registration or computer glitches. It also does not safeguard elections against voter fraud via mail in, absentee ballots (which have been shown to lead to far more fraud than in person voting). More research about voter fraud is needed so elected leaders can determine the best approach to making elections more secure.