New voter ID law could cost as much as $3.6 million to implement

rchristensen@newsobserver.comApril 18, 2013 

— The proposed new voter photo ID law could cost North Carolina as much as $3.6 million to implement – the price of providing free photos to those without driver’s licenses, and voter education efforts, state officials said.

The voter ID bill cleared another hurdle Thursday when it was approved by the House Finance Committee 18-10 in a vote that followed party lines with Republicans in favor and Democrats against. It is scheduled for a full House vote next week.

The legislative staff prepared an analysis of how much it would likely cost to implement the law which requires voters to provide a photo ID by the 2016 election. It would also require a trial run for the 2014 election.

One of the biggest costs will be providing free photo IDs to persons who do not hold driver’s licenses or other government-approved photos such as student IDs for state-supported campuses.

“We are trying to make it as easy as possible,” said Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a philanthropic consultant and a Charlotte Republican who is one of the bill’s chief sponsors.

The cost of a photo ID from the Division of Motor Vehicles and driver’s and marriages licenses are unknown because the estimates of how many people don’t have photo IDs has varied greatly.

The State Board of Elections determined in March that 318,643 of the state’s 6.4 million registered voters could not be matched with DMV computer records. Of those, 171,736 did not vote in the last two elections.

In Georgia, a state about the same size as North Carolina, 29,000 voters asked for free photo IDs so they could vote.

Other costs would involve setting up a staff to oversee implementing the law, and outreach efforts to make sure everyone understood the law including possible advertising.

Samuelson said she thought implementation of the voter ID law would actually cost less than $3.6 million, but the higher figure was being included to make sure that funds were available to cover all contingencies.

The Democrats offered several amendments in committee on Thursday, most of which were defeated. Several Democrats also questioned why student IDs were accepted at public institutions, but not private institutions.

Democratic Rep. Paul Luebke, a college professor from Durham, said there was no reason why a Duke University ID was not as good as a student ID from N.C. Central University.

The reasoning is that an ID from a private college would not be government-issued. But the question caused Republican Rep. Jeff Collins, a financial consultant from Rocky Mount, to quip that the voter ID bill was “discriminating against rich Caucasians from New Jersey.”

Christensen: 919-829-4532

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service