Dome: NC lawmakers might ban lottery sales to those on welfare

Staff writersJanuary 23, 2013 

N.C. lawmakers are discussing draft legislation that would prohibit lottery retailers from knowingly selling tickets to customers who receive public assistance, such as food stamps, or are in bankruptcy.

T. ORTEGA GAINES — ogaines@charlotteobserver.com

State lawmakers are discussing draft legislation that would prohibit lottery retailers from knowingly selling tickets to customers who receive public assistance, such as food stamps, or are in bankruptcy, Pat Gannon at the Insider reports. “We’re giving them welfare to help them live, and yet by selling them a ticket, we’re taking away their money that is there to provide them the barest of necessities,” said Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam, R-Wake. He acknowledged it would be difficult for lottery clerks to know whether players get government help. But he suggested that in obvious cases, such as when customers pay for groceries with food stamps, they shouldn’t be allowed to buy lottery tickets at the same time.

Stam said that idea is one of several pertaining to the N.C. Education Lottery that may be considered during the coming legislative session. Most, he said, have to do with requiring the lottery to be “truthful” in its advertising. Stam said the proposals are aimed at protecting consumers. He added that there is no talk about repealing the lottery and that proceeds would still go toward education. “What they’re talking about is making it a more honest lottery,” he said.

In late 2011, the lottery received a certification from the World Lottery Association for its “responsible gaming program,” in part because each lottery ticket includes a “Play Responsibly” message, along with a phone number for a gambling hotline. The lottery also prints the estimated odds of winning a break-even prize on each ticket. Although the odds of winning each different prize amount aren’t listed on each ticket, they are available on the lottery website and in the lottery “play centers” at retail locations. The lottery also publishes on its website the number of prizes remaining at all prize levels in scratch-off games.

Groups vow to fight voter ID

A coalition of groups on Wednesday renewed their call for the General Assembly to abandon any attempts at requiring voters to have a photo ID or other additional documentation. They vowed to fight any such legislation through the upcoming session and into the courts, if necessary.

The coalition will provide a public service announcement to major media markets in the state, beginning this weekend, and it has set up a website: ProtectOurVoteNC.com.

The groups include the state chapter of the NAACP, the ACLU of North Carolina, Democracy North Carolina, and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

The campaign, announced in a news conference at the statehouse, increases pressure on Republican legislators to back off their promise to pass a voter ID bill this session. But it also comes as some GOP leaders have expressed a willingness to reconsider the requirement for a photo, following an analysis by the state Board of Elections that 600,000 active and inactive registered voters don’t have a driver license or other state photo ID.

Bob Hall, research director of Democracy North Carolina, said the number of active voters without photo ID could be considerably less than that, once the list is trimmed of name variations and other errors. It might be anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000, he said, but added that is still a lot of potentially disenfranchised voters.

Hall said there is more of a problem with fraudulent mail-in absentee ballots, and that it is disturbing that the GOP is not going after those voters instead of those without photo ID. Black, female and elderly voters would be especially hard hit, data Hall released indicates.

“This is really about manipulating the political process for a partisan advantage and is despicable,” Hall said. “They’re just waving up all this smoke and emotion about Mexicans in buses coming to vote illegally. And dead people. It’s just like fantasy land.”

Jordan Shaw, spokesman for House Speaker Thom Tillis, said afterward that whatever voter ID bill emerges, lawmakers will strive to make sure it is one that would hold up in court and address the concerns raised by the coalition.

Who voted in November

North Carolina Republicans turned out a slightly higher rate than did Democrats in the November election, according to a new survey of turnout figures.

The Republicans turned out 73 percent, while Democrats turned out at 70 percent, according to Democracy North Carolina, a Durham election reform group.

The two groups with the most enthusiasm were African-American women and white Republicans who both voted at 74 percent.

More women then men voted in every single county. Seniors over age 65 outnumbered young voters ages 18 to 25 in all but four counties, each with major universities – Orange, Watauga, Pitt and Durham.

The county with the highest turnout was Chatham with 76 percent. The county with the lowest turnout was military-dependent Onslow, with 53 percent.

Staff writers John Frank, Craig Jarvis and Rob Christensen

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