Commentary, Defending Democracy

Op-ed exposes the dishonesty behind voter ID amendment

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the Rev. Dr. Earl Johnson’s op-ed in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer. In “Voter ID on the N.C. ballot is about suppression, not fraud,” Johnson does a great job of summing up what’s really behind the proposed constitutional amendment planned for the November ballot and why it should be rejected. Here’s the fine conclusion:

“The assumption that voters will agree to have a voter ID requirement enshrined in the North Carolina Constitution is based on questionable premises.

For one, it assumes that the majority of voters think there is widespread voter fraud. Most do not. The evidence shows that there is no widespread voter fraud in the state. In 2016, only one case of voter fraud was discovered.

Second, putting a voter ID law on the ballot supposes that this is the will of the people. We know this is not true. The vast majority of North Carolinians are satisfied with voting the way it is now. Why spend tax dollars trying to fix something that is not broken? The only plausible answer is that the Republican legislative leaders, desperate to remain in power, are willing to suppress and disenfranchise minority groups that typically vote Democratic.

Anyone who is willing to suppress the votes of an entire population, whose slave ancestors labored from sun up to sundown for nearly 300 years to make America great, must be extremely power hungry. To deny one’s fellow citizens full participation in the voting process without a reasonable explanation – and no explanation is reasonable in this effort – can only be seen as a way to rig the system for political gain. It is my belief that such a scheme will not be supported by fair-minded voters.

Tampering with the state Constitution for political gain is dangerous and threatening. Only a handful of states that have tried this tactic have been successful. Further, if this proposed amendment is added to the state Constitution, what will those who want to curtail the rights of others add next?

Another faulty premise is that everyone can easily obtain an ID card. Republican lawmakers want voters to trust that once the amendment is passed they will impose fair requirements for what is an acceptable form of voter ID. The problem is that they have demonstrated time and time again that they can’t be trusted. Who’s to say that a driver’s license will even be accepted?

The issue is not about preventing fraud. It’s about preventing voting. It’s another way to discriminate against the very people who have been called upon again and again to make North Carolina the great state that it is. It is an attempt at promoting white privilege while demoting the privileges and rights of others.

Nonetheless, I have great faith in the people that they will reject this kind of political gamesmanship. My faith is that they won’t do the dirty work for repressive legislators and disenfranchise the people they have grown to respect and appreciate. Voters must ask themselves, is this act morally justified? And the reality is that it is not.”

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