One of the issues that bothers me the most about the current legislative agenda of our illustrious General Assembly is the attempt to pass a voter ID law requiring voters to show picture ID in order to be able to vote. The argument is that it is so easy to commit this type of fraud that it must be going on and therefore something needs to be done to stop it, besides almost everyone has this type of ID anyway. Each part of the argument is completely flawed and with no merit in reality and has no real evidence to support its agenda. First off, there is no evidence to support the notion that any election anywhere in recent times have been influenced by this type of fraud. How do I know? Well, the Bush administration in 2006 launched an exhaustive investigation to try to find if any cases could be found to advance the agenda of the some in the Republican party. What they discovered was less than 150 cases from the entire country and they were all cases of voter error (like going to wrong precinct or convicted felon not understanding that they had to reapply for voting privileges in some states after release from prison, etc.). In other words, not one single federal election was affected by in person voter fraud anywhere in the US and it is a practice that if it even exists is so rare that it has no impact on any election. So there is no evidence to support it as a problem, “But it is so easy to do, it has to be happening or could in the future”. First off, it isn’t easy. You have to look up death certificates of dead voters on rolls, find out where they are registered, show up and hope that the poll workers (who usually live in the district) do not recognize the name, and that the voter has not been purged from the voting rolls or if it is a living voter that they have not voted earlier or won’t vote at all. I’m not sure how another person would be able to find that out easily. if you vote for someone else early in the day and then the real person shows up, most voting places will have cameras that they can look up to identify the person who has already voted. And after all that, if you get caught, you’ll face arrest and a potential of 6 months in prison, a $10,000 fine and all for what? to cast a vote that will have no impact on the results of the elections that they are participating. In other words, who is willing to risk prison time and a huge fine for something that will have no impact on anything anyway. But you say, everyone has this type of ID anyway therefore it is no big deal. It is estimated that nearly 500,000 eligible NC voters do not have this type of ID and would have to pay money to acquire one in order to vote which is considered by most to be unconstitutional. Now the legislature has tried to address this issue in a somewhat fair, legal manner, but it places the burden on the voter to prove their eligibility by casting a provisional ballot and giving time to prove their eligibility in other ways. However, why should an American citizen have to prove anything to exercise their constitutional right and should voting be as easy as possible to maximize voter participation when many will not take the time to jump through the hoops that are put in front of them.
These ID laws are not the only ways the only ways the NCGA is trying to manipulate the voting process to their own advantage. Limiting early voting times, preventing college students from voting on their campuses are just two of the other insidious plans they have hatched to limited ‘undesirable’ groups from voting in the coming elections that they believe will help maintain their grip on power which is really what this is all about for them. They believe (falsely in my opinion) that this will bring them electoral advantage which is completely unnecessary considering how well they have gerrymandered the districts in this state. The area of voting where there is actually considerable evidence that fraud is occurring is with absentee ballots, but you do not see a single discussion of the issue, why? Because Republican voters more often vote through that method and the other methods that are targeted all have one thing in common, that Democratic voters are disproportionally effected by those restrictions. In other words, NCGA wants to make sure they maintain power at the expense of democracy and so they do not have to be held accountable by voters who are adversely affected by their policies which is in my mind an admission that you know that you are wrong and will end up losing in the end, but maybe they can push that off as long as they can. It’s pathetic.