VOTER ID

AMENDMENT WOULD PUT VOTER ID

IN NC CONSTITUTION

FROM: 

Raleigh, N.C. — House Speaker Tim Moore and other House Republicans filed a proposed constitutional amendment Thursday afternoon to ensconce a voter ID rule in the state constitution. The bill would ask voters to decide this November whether to add this paragraph to the constitution: “Photo identification for voting in person. Every person offering to vote in person shall present photo identification before voting in the manner prescribed by law.” The requirement deals only with in-person voting, not absentee voting. Voters wouldn’t necessarily see more details, including what sorts of ID would qualify, before voting. That would be laid out later by the General Assembly in a separate bill. Moore, R-Cleveland, said North Carolinians can look to other states with voter ID is already in place examples of what the legislature would approve.

The measure will start in the House, but the language has been discussed by House and Senate leadership, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said. Legislators hope to wrap this session by the end of the month, which would put the proposal on the House and Senate floors for votes within the next few weeks. It must pass both chambers with support from three-fifths of the membership to go on the ballot. The measure wouldn’t be subject to the governor’s veto. 

The General Assembly’s last push for voter ID was struck down by the federal courts, which found racial discrimination in that effort and in a number of other changes to voting laws included in a 2013 bill. That bill was rolled out a day after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a portion of the U.S. Voting Rights Act requiring pre-clearance of voting law changes by the federal government.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided in 2016 that the Republican majority targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision” in that law, noting among other things that the legislature had data in hand showing African-Americans were less likely than white voters to have the sort of identification required.

A previous version of that 2013 bill, proposed before the court changed the Voting Rights Act, would have allowed other government IDs, including expired ones. Allison Riggs, an attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice who argued against the 2013 law in the lengthy court reviews that followed, said in a statement Thursday that legislators are “trying to trick voters into doing their dirty work for them. This is an obvious effort to implement a policy that has been shot down as being racially discriminatory.”

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