Why would the GOP in North Carolina make instituting a Voter ID requirement a priority when we are facing so many other critical problems and there were less than two dozen cases of voter fraud out of the 4.3 million ballots cast in NC in 2008? Because it's all part of a national campaign to erect barriers to voting for citizens who do not support their party or their platform. Read this report and be sure to check out the links for some pretty horrifying facts. Whatever you do: don't let this issue fly under the radar. It is about so much more than Voter I.D. It is an old-fashioned power grab based on an attempted end run around democracy. Please help us spread this message to as many people as possible by sending the short report that follows to people in your organization.
Data Highlight: Protect One Vote or Protect 100,000 Votes
The Pope Civitas Institute is trumpeting a poll designed to help Republican lawmakers who want North Carolina voters to show a government-issued photo ID each time they vote (except, oddly, for when they vote through the mail – Republicans traditionally lead in mail-in absentee voting in NC).
The Pope Civitas poll says 83% of registered voters would approve a government ID requirement. But here are two more crucial numbers in this poll: an astonishing 80% of the poll’s respondents said they voted in 2010 and 99% of all respondents said they have “an official photo ID, such as a driver’s license, an ID card from the DMV, a military ID or a U.S. passport.” These last numbers indicate the questionable nature of this poll or narrow range of who is being polled: We suggest that you ask the people at your workplace (especially the younger ones) if their driver’s license has an old address; we bet you’ll discover that more than 1% don’t have a government photo ID with a current address.
There’s no doubt that requiring a photo ID sounds like a common-sense protection against voter fraud. But here’s the truth: It’s already a felony to illegally vote or to lie when you sign in to vote, a NC requirement. Partisan poll observers and others can challenge voters, and a valid ID is required to register in the first place. These and other provisions are effective. Cases of fraud that a photo ID would prevent are extremely rare – less than two dozen cases out of 4.3 million ballots cast in NC in 2008, says State Board of Elections director Gary Bartlett.
Adding more barriers will likely reduce the pitiful participation we now have in a typical North Carolina election. Only 44% of registered voters cast ballots in 2010, or about 37% of eligible citizens (that means the new Republican majority in Raleigh won with the votes of barely 1 in 5 voting-age citizens, hardly a mandate).
So why do Republican leaders and Pope Civitas want to add a new barrier to voting? Because it would mostly affect voters they don’t like, including thousands of people of color, students, people with disabilities and poor voters who don’t have a current photo ID. It’s about political power, tinged with racism. It’s very similar to what the Democrats did 100 years ago when they used the poll tax to disenfranchise black voters who were siding with Abe Lincoln’s Republican Party. Now the tables are turned and the GOP is eager to erect new barriers in state after state. In the name of protecting one vote, they would impose an unnecessary hardship on thousands of other equally qualified voters. Who’s protecting their vote?
Even observers who think a voter ID may have some merit echo Friday’s editorial in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram that questions why Republicans lawmakers would devote so much energy to this crusade rather than focus on balancing the budget, stimulating new jobs, and tackling other urgent priorities. It’s a good question. So is this one: How many school teachers will lose their jobs so government funds can be used to implement what looks like the modern version of an old-fashioned power grab?