The following excellent editorial on mandatory photo ID laws for voting is cross-posted from this morning’s Winston-Salem Journal:
“Voter suppression, typically aimed at racial and ethnic minorities, the poor and women, has a long and sad history in the U.S. Even today, attempts to erect procedural barriers to frustrate voting continue in North Carolina.
House Bill 351, which requires photo identification at the polls, passed the General Assembly but was vetoed by Gov. Bev Perdue in June. It stands only five votes short of a House veto override and then almost certain Senate approval.
The GOP says we need photo identification to protect the legitimacy of elections. They imagine a state with widespread voter fraud, despite the absence of any evidence to support that claim. If this bill becomes law, there will be voter fraud, but it will be committed against citizens denied their constitutional right to vote.
If there were significant voter fraud in this state — and there is not — then this would still be a bad bill because it wouldn’t stop it. Phony photo identification cards are easy to get — just ask 19-year-old college students who want to drink beer — and those who want to cheat will simply get one. It is the honest citizen who will be stopped from voting.
Proponents argue that getting a legitimate I.D. is easy and that the bill says many forms of government-issued identification are acceptable. But that argument does not consider the mobility problems that face the poor, especially those who are elderly. Shut-ins, those without transportation and those who do not know how to get an I.D. will be denied their right to vote.
This bill should fail.