Governor vetoes voter ID bill

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 24, 2011

RALEIGH (AP) ó North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue vetoed a Republican-written bill Thursday that would require voters to show photo identification before casting an in-person ballot, agreeing with fellow Democrats that the mandate would discourage participation.
ěNorth Carolinians who are eligible to vote have a constitutionally guaranteed right to cast their ballots, and no one should put up obstacles to citizens exercising that right,î the governor said in a statement. ěWe must always be vigilant in protecting the integrity of our elections. But requiring every voter to present a government-issued photo ID is not the way to do it.î
Perdueís veto was expected. Her office said last week the photo ID requirement wasnít something the governor could support in the way it was presented to her.
Republicans have argued the mandate would discourage voter fraud in an era when everyone must show proof of identity to write a check, enter a government building or get on an airplane. Still, Republicans in charge of the Legislature fell short of passing the bill in the House by a margin that would overturn a veto.
The bill got legs after the GOP took charge of the Legislature for the first time in more than 140 years and its leaders are setting its sights on defeating Perdue and President Obama, who won the stateís electoral votes by about 14,000 votes in 2008. The victory ended a 32-year winning streak for Republican nominees in North Carolina.
House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger condemned Perdueís decision, saying polls have shown strong support for voter ID. ěA measure that ensures voters are who they say they are is a no-brainer, and most North Carolinians agree,î Berger, R-Rockingham, said in a statement. ěItís a shame Gov. Perdue is playing politics with the integrity of elections.î
Tillis didnít say whether his chamber would attempt an override vote. The Senate vote last week was veto-proof for that chamber.
Democrats argue the bill was purely partisan and designed to discourage older adults and black residents less likely to have photo ID from voting. They point out that cases of fraud are few thanks to already tough laws and said that placing obstacles to vote is reminiscent of Jim Crow-era laws in the pre-Civil Rights era in the South.
About 147,100 active black voters do not have photo ID, according to the election reform group Democracy North Carolina.
ěThere are very few voter identification problems in North Carolina and where we do have them itís usually a clerical error or something like that,î House Minority Leader Joe Hackney, D-Orange, said in praising Perdueís veto. ěIf it went into law, it would suppress voting.î
The legislation would require a person arriving at a precinct to show one of eight forms of photo ID, including a new voter card available for free from county election boards. Without the ID, people could still cast provisional ballots but would have to prove their identity later.
It would have cost taxpayers $1.4 million next year to carry out the law and issue IDs to thousands of people, according to the nonpartisan North Carolina Center for Voter Education, which backed the veto.
ěThe measure would have placed undue burdens on law-abiding citizens,î said center executive director Damon Circosta.
The veto is the eighth by Perdue this year. No other governor had previously issued more than two in a year since voters made North Carolina the final state to give its chief executive the power in 1997.
The frequent use of the veto stamp reflects the frayed relations between Perdue and legislative Republicans this year. The political fighting was capped by Perdueís veto of the two-year budget bill then its override by the Legislature, when a handful of Democrats defected.
Perdue is working through more than 200 bills on her desk left behind by the Legislature when it left town last weekend. Perdue is weighing whether to veto bills on abortion, medical malpractice and the environment. The last of the bills must be acted upon by June 30. Lawmakers could attempt to override any vetoes in a redistricting session slated to begin July 13.
The Associated Press
06/23/11 21:26