Last week, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis announced that a Voter ID bill “will move fairly quickly” through the General Assembly this year. The League of Women Voters has been a vocal opponent of similar Voter ID bills introduced recently in state legislatures across the country.
We should not be so blinded by concerns about voter fraud that we are willing to make it harder for thousands of eligible North Carolinians to exercise their right to vote. Research has shown that elderly citizens, low-income voters, African-American voters and voters under age 24 are among those least likely to have a current government-issued ID.
Furthermore, 40 of the state's 100 counties are covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Thus, while our legislators may vote on Voter ID legislation, any changes to our election laws would need pre-clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice and/or a three-judge panel in Washington, D.C. In 2012, a Voter ID law in Texas was struck down through this process.
Time and again these laws have been found to be illegal. Such restrictive voting laws should not be enacted in any state, nor should we allow politicians to manipulate election laws for their own personal gain. It is time for us to move beyond the rhetoric and work to ensure that everyone who is eligible to vote can vote, and will have their vote counted without any barriers.
On a practical level, some of the legislators promoting Voter ID are the same ones who claim they are concerned about fiscal responsibility. Voter ID could potentially cost the state's taxpayers millions of dollars to implement properly; it could also put new financial burdens on local governments. Is Voter ID really worth all these burdens?
— Karen Oelschlaeger
League of Women Voters