Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Voter-advocacy group welcomes chance to discuss photo ID law
Today, the N.C. Republican House leadership announced a process to hear comments from the public and move toward adoption of legislation that would require voters to show a photo ID, if they vote in person. Legislators say the bill will also include new requirements for mail-in absentee voters.
We appreciate the genuine invitation from Rep. David Lewis and Speaker Thom Tillis for groups that oppose the photo ID requirement to participate in the process. We share their stated commitment to provide a voting system that is secure, fair and accessible. Election Day is the one time when we are equals. We cannot tolerate political manipulation or election fraud that gives some voters an advantage and turns others into second-class citizens.
Democracy North Carolina continues to believe the photo ID requirement is a needless and expensive barrier to address a problem — voter impersonation — that is grounded in myth more than fact. Any new barrier will have a consequence, including making the process appear confusing and intimidating to some voters. Depending on how a photo ID requirement is implemented, it could cost millions of dollars and affect tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of active registered voters. It inevitably will have a disproportionate impact on low-income citizens, African Americans, other people of color and seniors who no longer drive.
However, we also recognize that ID advocates have the votes to pass a bill. We accept their invitation to be at the table and offer positive suggestions. We will work diligently with others to provide constructive proposals to protect the integrity of the election process and ensure that no eligible voter is turned away, or made to come back a second time, simply because they lack or forget to bring a photo ID when they vote.
That should be the goal we all share: we must honor every citizen’s right to cast a ballot that counts, as the North Carolina Constitution promises.
— Bob Hall


Hall is executive director of Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan voter advocacy and campaign watchdog group.