THE INDEPENDENT NEWS
If at first you don’t suppress? Try, try again.
This seems to be a goal of the GOP majority in North Carolina’s legislature, which essentially is now pushing to revive part of the 2013 voting restrictions the courts cast aside. They are doing so by asking voters in November to stick a requirement for photo identification for in-person voting into the state constitution.
The legislature in 2013, as a federal appeals court found three years later, used demographic data as part of their effort to restrict voting and voter registration. This was discriminatory – targeting “African Americans with almost surgical precision,” as a federal opinion put it.
“In holding that the legislature did not enact the challenged provisions with discriminatory intent, the court seems to have missed the forest in carefully surveying the many trees,” the federal court’s opinion noted in overturning a lower court decision.
North Carolina is being led back into the woods. The legislature wants voters to decide whether to enshrine questionable policy in the state constitution. Voters should oppose this effort.
North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore in June told Spectrum News the amendment is meant “to make sure we enhance and protect the security of our election system.” The wording of the question lacks specificity – the requirement is for photo ID – meaning, as Moore has explained, the legislature could fill in the details later.
Supporters of voter identification requirements often point to the fear of fraud, and that has been part of the discussion as North Carolina voters near a referendum decision. First, consider the math.
The News & Observer’s Lynn Bonner reported earlier this year, citing a state report, that there were issues with about 500 votes cast in 2016. Out of more than 4.7 million votes cast that year, a single fraudulent vote likely would have been prevented by ID law, according to The Charlotte Observer.
That means the majority, with a track record of pushing law that limits rather than encourage access to voting, are again seeking a solution in search of a problem. Unless one considers whether protecting Republicans is a problem of any real meaning.
As The New York Times reported, there has been evidence of fraudulent absentee voting by mail. The legislative majority seems disinclined to address the apparent real problems of a voting method that tends to be used by white people. The proposed amendment does not touch that issue at all.
This constitutional amendment has less to due with fraud and more to do with limiting votes by people who tend not to support a political party. This could disenfranchise people who are poor and people of color. Advocates for the elderly also have opposed the measure. So should anyone with a lick of either sense or decency.
This is politics dressed up as policy, and it should be rejected as such. North Carolinians should pull the lever against requiring ID to vote in person.
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