My Turn: Voter ID isn’t a new ‘poll tax’

  • Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013 12:01 a.m.

Contrary to the race-baiting information being pushed on the radio by the NAACP and others, the legislation promoting voter ID cards, preferably with pictures, is not a poll tax.

These cards are consistent with the U.S. Constitution’s 24th Amendment, Section 1, which ensures that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for president or vice president, for electors for president or vice president, or for senator or representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.” In Section 2 of this amendment, legislation is allowed that will enforce this provision.

In North Carolina, great pains have been taken in the Republican-controlled state government to avoid disenfranchising citizens or engaging in any voter suppression efforts in allowing state-issued identification to serve this purpose. Adding a picture to these cards can help to stem the identification thefts and frauds that are continuing unabated in other arenas as well.

Eligible to serve as voter ID alternatives are driver’s licenses, identification cards from the Department of Motor Vehicles and other exceptions, which could include military IDs. The proposed legislation makes clear that for those unable to purchase these cards, cards will be provided at no cost to citizens who are eligible to vote. For those elderly persons who may not have state-issued birth certificates, other options have also been provided. Given this, voter ID cards are anything but a poll tax.

Presently, one has to have a photo identification card to enter the White House or federal buildings, go to any restricted movies, legally purchase a weapon, enter the ABC store for a buy or purchase cigarettes anywhere. A legitimate voter photo ID card ensures that citizens have a basic right that non-citizens do not, i.e., the right to vote. It also gives citizens free identification to handle many of their affairs.

Through the courtship of the Hispanic vote, it is clear that, increasingly, the African-American vote is being taken for granted again, and we will be viewed as a disenfranchised people if we don’t exercise our right to vote. The untold story in North Carolina’s 2012 elections saw the state going Republican again without the positive impact of the black vote for Pat McCrory being detailed. In 2008 McCrory got 4 percent of the black vote, and in 2012 blacks gave him 14 percent of their vote. Though this clearly was not a majority, smartly leveraging our black votes helped influence this election, and can do the same for Hispanics and others. Will McCrory reward the black community for this support or follow the Obama administration’s lead in neglecting those who helped bring him to the dance?

As the number of non-citizens in residence in the United States continues to grow and immigration reform efforts get more murky, it is imperative that the citizens’ right to vote remain a paramount distinction, which voter ID cards help. Unfortunately, immigration reform is likely to come at the expense of African-Americans. Where are the groups speaking to these issues, as should be the role of the NAACP? When we increase the number of immigrants allowed to stay in the country illegally and work for equal wages, who do black voters really think will be pushed aside?

Don’t buy the race-baiting arguments to stop voter ID cards. Appreciate such as a means to ensure that your vote as citizen matters.

Dr. Ada M. Fisher is the N.C. Republican National Committee woman and a former member of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education. Email:

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