Politics & Government

NC Senate overrides Cooper’s voter ID veto

The state Senate voted Tuesday to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a voter ID bill, one of the final steps needed before the state requires voters to show photo identification at the polls.

The Senate voted 33-12 to override. In order to enact the law over Cooper’s objection, the House will also have to vote to override his veto. The House and Senate passed the bill with veto-proof majorities before the Democratic governor vetoed it. The measure would require certain forms of photo ID to vote in person.

Republican legislative leaders said Cooper’s veto defied the will of the voters. Photo voter ID was added to the state constitution this year with support from 55 percent of voters.

Sen. Joyce Krawiec, a Kernersville Republican, said the bill writers listened to stakeholders, colleges and universities in shaping the proposal.

“We listened to everyone,” she said on the Senate floor. “There’s not anyone who can say all sides didn’t participate.”

On Nov. 6, legislators were given “clear direction from the voters of North Carolina,” Krawiec said.

Voter ID has long been a Republican goal. A 2013 state law requiring voter ID was overturned by federal courts in 2016.

Cooper called the bill “a solution in search of a problem” in his veto message.

An audit of 2016 general election votes in North Carolina found one case of in-person voter impersonation in 4.8 million votes cast.

Republicans have argued that suspected voter impersonation is under-reported.

In a news conference Tuesday, Cooper said the voter ID should wait until next session and “a more balanced legislature.” There will be more Democrats in the House and Senate next session, leaving Republicans without supermajorities.

Republicans who steered the voter ID constitutional amendment onto the November ballot put voters in a corner, Cooper said.

Voters had to decide on the amendment without knowing what the voter ID law would look like, he said.

“What the legislature did is force the voters to give them a blank check,” Cooper said. “They filled it out wrong, and that’s why I vetoed it.”

At a press conference Monday, the Rev. William Barber II, one of the leaders of the Poor People’s Campaign, said the legislature should have worked on changes that would help low-income people, such as expanding Medicaid and raising the minimum wage, rather than enacting voter ID.

“We call a special session in the season of Thanksgiving, in the season of Christmas, in the season of Advent, and this legislature could have taken that time to address the needs of poor people and sick people throughout North Carolina,” Barber said. “They chose to focus on an unnecessary voter ID bill rather than deal with the real issues that are impacting North Carolinians.”

Lynn Bonner has worked at The News & Observer since 1994, and has written about the state legislature and politics since 1999. Contact her at lbonner@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-4821.