One of the most insidious proposals coming up in the General Assembly session is the one to require people to show photo IDs in order to vote. It has the potential to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters in NC. Proponents argue that it will prevent voter fraud, but they are unable to point to more than a handful of possible (not confirmed) cases of fraud, hardly enough to justify excluding so many voters. Opponents argue that photo ID is an effort to suppress voting by groups of people not likely to be in agreement with the political stances of the proponents of photo ID. For more about our current system and how it is working, click here.
The General Assembly passed a photo ID bill last session, but Gov. Perdue vetoed it. It was one of the vetoes which the legislature was unable to override, as even the most conservative Democrats refused to vote for an override.
The NC Council of Churches was one of many organizations opposing photo ID. Our concern was — and remains — the great number of people who do not currently have a driver’s license or other photo ID and how disproportionately they are people who have historically been marginalized. A recent media release from Rev. William Barber of the state NAACP produced a response from one state legislator, who labeled Rev. Barber’s concerns as “racist diatribe” and added that “most Americans over the age of 16 have some form of photo ID.”
Click here to see the facts and the data to support the facts. This information is from our friends at Democracy NC and is based on data from the State Board of Elections, which searched its records and concluded that 506,600 of the state’s slightly fewer than 6 million active registered voters do not have a photo ID. The grid that accompanies this report shows how this breaks down for various groups. Compare the percentages in the column on the left with the percentages in the column on the right. Here’s what you will find. Those groups which are proportionately overrepresented among people with photo IDs are: 1) Whites, 2) Age 45-65, 3) Men, and 4) Republicans. Those proportionately underrepresented among people with photo IDs are: 1) African-Americans, 2) Age 18-25, 3) Age Over 65, 4) Woman, and 5) Democrats.
So, you can decide who is most affected and whether the legislator’s comment about how many people have photo IDs is valid. I guess, technically speaking, he is correct in saying that “most” Americans have photo IDs. But is he willing to make voting more difficult for the nearly 10% of current NC voters who do not? Apparently so.
What to do:
1) Write a letter to the editor of your local paper, pointing out how many people who are currently registered to vote do not have a photo ID and questioning whether we want to make it more difficult for them to exercise their right to vote. Note the groups of people most likely to be affected.
2) Write to Gov. McCrory with the same question.
3) Communicate with your Senator and your Representative, letting them know that you don’t think we should make it harder for people to vote.
— George Reed, Executive Director