Voter I.D. Is a Smokescreen: Their Real Motives

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?

Comments

One of their requirements.....

... is that the voter show an official government ID with their current address on it every time they go to vote, even if the voter has only moved next door. This is an extremely onerous requirement to put on people who move frequently, like students. We're conducting an informal experiment and if you want to join in, please post the following on your Facebook status or poll your organization's members and let us know how many people respond:

"Hey Friends! Doing a little research: How many of you have a driver's license or passport with your current address on it? Give your answer by commenting on this post!"

Thanks if you can help!

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action
www.progressncaction.org

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

How would this affect absentee ballots?

And the elderly? My mother lives in an assisted living center. She currently does not have a driver's license (nor should she!). However, she does vote in every election - primaries and all. So far she has gone to the polling place to vote, but it's rapidly approaching the stage where she may want to vote via absentee ballot.

Have our G.O.P. friends addressed this part of the issue?

These are all issues...

... that would have to be dealt with when the GOP writes the bill and before they introduce it. Of the few states that have enacted these laws, a few provide exemptions for certain groups -- meaning the law is applied unevenly. We have no way of knowing how draconian the NC GOP will attempt to make their bill, but early indications are that it will restrictive in the extreme.

The one thing you will find cross all states with this law and that will absolutely happen here if this law is enacted: the number of POOR people who are off the grid or on the fringes but who want to vote and have the right to vote will drop dramatically as it will become much harder for poor people to vote regularly.

I think this angers me more than anything else -- do we not already live in a completely divided society? We have one set of rules for the rich; another for the poor. One kind of justice system for people with money; quite another kind of justice system for people without. And so on.... must we also now add the one thing that equalizes us all -- voting -- to this list? The founding fathers would be ashamed.

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action
www.progressncaction.org

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

I forgot to say

Thank you for replying and for your thoughtful answer, Linda! If you or anyone else thinks of other groups that would be disproportionately affected by this law -- or if you know individuals who would be affected by this law -- please let me know.

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action
www.progressncaction.org

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

Thanks for highlighting this

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.

How many of you have a driver's license or passport with your current address on it?

That worries me. I mean it all does. But I think of a college town like Chapel Hill, with a high percentage of students who wont have up to date licenses, and what that would do to voting here. I mean, the last mayoral election was decided by 100 votes, and college students made up more votes than that.

I agree that for many this effort is likely just a smoke screen to change election outcomes. They already have citizens united and election redistricting... just how much of a rigged game do they need?

I don't recall the exact

I don't recall the exact percentage but a few years ago I was told that a very high percentage of African Americans do not have a drivers license. It was somewhere between 20 and 40%. That eliminates a heck of a lot of voters. Someone can go to DMV and get a photo I think but can you imagine how difficult and discouraging that would be if this law were passed? What ID's are acceptable in order to register?

I'm a moderate Democrat.

They have a few options...

... when they register to vote, so people are thoroughly vetted then. Here's what we tell people. The law was very carefully worded within these parameters to eliminate fraud while still making it possible for people without a driver's license to register:

"The registration form asks you for your full name, current address, mailing address, birth date, and birthplace. You must also provide your North Carolina driver’s license number if you have one. If not, provide the last four digits of your Social Security number on the registration form. If you do not have either of these, you will be asked to send or show another form of identification, either with the form or when you first vote. Acceptable forms of ID must have your name and current residential address; they include:

* A utility bill from an electric, water, gas, telephone or cell phone, or cable company.
* A bank statement or bank-card statement.
* A paycheck or pay stub.
* Any license, registration, permit, invoice, check, letter or other document from a local, state or federal government agency.
* A student ID with a school document showing the student’s current address.

If you have a current NC driver’s license, you will not need any of these other documents."

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action
www.progressncaction.org

Lead, follow or get out of the way....