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Democracy NC leader on Senate’s voter ID bill

Bob Hall, Executive Director, Democracy North Carolina [1], released the following statement this afternoon on the Senate’s new voter ID bill:

“The state Senate released its version of H-589, the photo ID requirement bill today. A comparison of some features with the House version is below.

The Senate bill takes a double swipe at college students, making it harder for them to vote. It refuses to accept student IDs from any college; the House at least accepts those from the UNC and community college systems. And it restricts the use of an out-of-state driver’s license to 90 days from the day of becoming a NC registered voter; the House accepts the out-of-state driver’s licenses as a legitimate government-issued photo ID. These are unnecessary, mean-spirited changes that target and punish college students who want to participate in the civic life of their college community.

The Senate version keeps a House provision that will make the NC law one of the most restrictive in the nation – harsher than the ones in Florida, Idaho, Michigan and several other states with a photo ID requirement. Those states allow the voter who lacks or forgets to bring the photo ID to sign an attestation under penalty of perjury and, in some cases, provide an identifying number, such as a birth date or Social Security number, that the board of elections can verify before counting the ballot. The proposed NC law would make that voter come back another day and show the correct ID to have their provisional ballot count.

This is significant: 70% of North Carolina voters say our law should also have that back-up provision for the voter without an ID who signs the attestation and gives an identifying number. A recent poll by the League of Women Voters of NC found that 75% of voters think a photo ID requirement is a good idea, BUT 70% also agree that the NC law should have the back-up provision rather than making the voter come back a second time to show an ID. Here’s the information from that poll. It also shows that when the proposed law disadvantages a group, such as students or seniors, public support drops way off:

http://www.democracy-nc.org/downloads/SurveyUSALWVPoll2013.pdf [2]

These two versions do not improve confidence in elections. They manipulate the rules to discourage certain types of voters for a partisan advantage.

Here is preliminary comparison of the Senate version of H-589 to the version passed by the House shows. The Senate version:

** Cuts in range of acceptable photo IDs:

     > NO college student IDs are acceptable (House allowed NC public universities and community college ID)

     > NO out-of-state driver’s license is acceptable unless you’ve just recently registered to vote (i.e., less than 90 days before the election where you’re showing your ID). House allowed government photo IDs created by other states.

     > NO North Carolina county or municipal government or public employee IDs is acceptable

     > NO photo ID issued by a public assistance agency is acceptable – another slap at low-income voters

     > House allowed expired photo ID to be used, up to 10 years after expiration. But Senate version only allows the other House exception: a voter over 70 can use an expired photo ID for any length of time if it was current when they were 70.

** Cuts in education outreach:

     > NO advisory board, as in House, to advise State Board of Elections about strategies and partner groups to use in a comprehensive education program about the ID requirement

     > NO provision for additional staff at State Board to do education

     > NO reference to using the Voter Guide to include information about ID

** Makes small changes to provisions in House version for voters in nursing/rest homes to get assistance for applying for absentee ballots.”