Guest editorial: It’s time to give up pushing for voter photo ID

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 19, 2018

News & Record of Greensboro

A bill submitted to the state House last week seeks once again to raise the issue of requiring North Carolina voters to show photo identification at the polls. This, despite the legislative failures of pushing such bills in the past. It’s like a zombie idea that keeps lumbering along and refuses to die.

The bill’s initial version says nothing about what kind of photo ID would be required — at this stage, it only calls for voters to decide whether the state constitution should be amended to require photo ID at the polls.

If voters favor the proposal, legislators would still have to pass a separate law to implement the requirement, the Winston-Salem Journal reported. That would call for three-fifth majorities in both chambers — which Republicans currently have but might not have after November.

Legislative leaders say the purpose of passing the bill is to restore confidence in elections and prevent voter fraud.

Of course, one of the main reasons voters lack confidence in elections is because Republicans keep telling them that voter fraud is a big problem in the state.

But the claim has been refuted time and time again, including by Republican authorities such as Kim Strach, executive director of the State Board of Elections. It does occur from time to time, but no evidence has ever been produced to prove that the problem is widespread or significant.

In 2013, Republicans tried to push through a voter-ID bill, only to have the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals determine that the bill was intended to suppress voting by African-Americans, who generally go heavily for Democrats, and that it targeted African-Americans “with almost surgical precision.”

“The state has failed to produce one individual who has ever been charged with committing in-person voter fraud in North Carolina,” the 4th Circuit Court said in its ruling.

Republicans spent more than $9 million of taxpayer money trying to push the bill through the courts, only to finally have the U.S. Supreme Court tell them to knock it off.

Republicans were so desperate to push their conspiracy theory in the last election that they accused voters in 52 counties of double voting and other misdeeds. Four of those voters are currently suing their accusers for slander and libel.

We do have voting problems in this state — voter suppression and Russian attempts to interfere in our elections. The state legislature has done nothing about those. Instead, Republicans are following their partisan pattern of trying to retain power at the expense of fair elections. It’s past time to let this zombie die.