The voter ID constitutional amendment explained
Boards of elections would provide registration cards with photos, and students at North Carolina’s public universities would be able to use their school IDs to vote under a draft voter ID bill that Republican legislators released Tuesday.
Voters decided this month to add a voter ID requirement to the state constitution. The legislature is returning next week to pass a law to implement the constitutional change.
The draft bill includes other photo IDs, such as driver’s licenses, tribal IDs, military and veteran ID cards, and state ID cards the state DMV provides to non-drivers.
An elections oversight committee is meeting Monday to discuss the proposal. An email from a spokesman for Senate leader Phil Berger described the proposal by Rep. David Lewis of Harnett County and Sen. Ralph Hise of Mitchell County as a “starting point,” and said changes are likely.
If all Republicans attend, they have enough votes to override any vetoes by Gov. Roy Cooper.
A 2013 law that did not count state university IDs as valid for voting was invalidated by a panel of federal judges in 2016. The photo ID law was in effect for the 2016 primary, and it caused confusion at the polls for some college students. The 2013 law did not have a provision for photo IDs issued by local elections boards.
Under the new proposal, photo IDs issued by county boards of elections would be new to the state, but other states use them. That ID would be used only for voting, and would expire in eight years. The proposal eliminates the part of existing law that has the DMV provide free IDs to voters who need them.
Also in the proposal:
▪ People older than 70 would be allowed to use expired IDs, if the IDs were valid when the people turned 70.
▪ People who were unable to obtain a photo ID would be able to cast provisional ballots after signing affidavits.
▪ People who don’t bring IDs to the polls would be able to cast provisional ballots that would be counted only if the voters return to the county boards of election to show their IDs before local elections officials take their final tallies.
Representatives from community colleges and independent colleges and universities will be at the Monday meeting to talk about adding other forms of ID, the email said. The committee will also discuss the possibility of adding state and local government ID cards to the list of acceptable voter IDs, the email said.
Some Democrats were wary of the lame-duck legislature writing the voter ID law. Democrats will have increased numbers and more clout in the legislature next year, even though they will still be in the minority.
In Charlotte, two Democratic lawmakers and two newly elected Democrats all called on Republicans to delay the voter ID legislation until the new session starts in January.
“What’s the rush?” Sen. Joyce Waddell said at a news conference. “Why are we rushing to take up voter ID in a lame-duck session?”
The Democrats all accused the current Republican majority of wanting to make it harder to vote.
“This lame-duck super-majority conspired over many years to disenfranchise voters,” Rep.-elect Nasif Majeed said.