North Carolina’s Phony Voter Photo ID Law

North Carolina’s GOP lawmakers hope to override veto of the voter photo ID bill. Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory is even using Photo ID as a campaign issue. Greensboro News-Record Editor Doug Clark describes this as sheer “political gamemanship” in   Political Trash Talk   

“That’s all this is about. The concern about voting fraud is phony, contrived, calculated to arouse the gullible.”

Lawmakers KNOW that photo ID won’t stop “voter fraud”. The photo ID legislation has no mechanism to do so. And Rep David Lewis, a key proponent for voter photo ID, admits that in email correspondence with me. 

The Greensboro News and Record has a story on that:

Is that ID on the up and up?
Doug Clark, Editor. Tuesday April 19, 2011

There was a lively discussion on our letters blog today about the proposed Voter ID bill. Supporters of the measure simply can’t understand why anyone would see a problem with requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls.

Joyce McCloy of the N.C. Coalition for Verified Voting didn’t weigh in there, but she forwarded some email correspondence she’s had with legislators. One question she asked was what mechanism the bill creates for election officials to verify whether the ID presented is legitimate. After all, the fake ID industry is thriving.

Today, at the behest of Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, she received a reply from Kara A. McCraw, staff attorney and legislative analyst for the General Assembly’s Research Division. It said:
“HB 351 requires the voter to present a photo ID to the local election official assigned to check registration when the voter enters the voting enclosure.  Voters are currently required to state their name and address, and HB 351 would add the additional requirement that the voter present one of the forms of photo ID listed in the statute.   The bill does not address the issue of “fake” IDs, specify a verification process by the election official, or require other agencies to share databases for verification of IDs.  So Ms. McCloy is correct that the bill does not include a system or funding for verification of the IDs,
and as a result the remaining questions (computer system for ID verification, electronic pollbooks , cost of such a system, security,  etc.) are not addressed in the bill.
“In reviewing the laws of the other 8 states which require photo ID, none appear to have established a process or system to verify whether an ID is fake or not at the polling site.  The challenge procedure in current NC law established under G.S. 163-87 for challenges on election day could still be used to challenge a voter on any of the grounds included in that statute, such as the person is not who they represent themselves to be, even if that voter has presented identification.”
What does this mean? For one thing, election workers will have a much tougher assignment without clear guidelines. Because many of us have driver’s license photos of questionable quality, or that don’t really resemble us, election officials might challenge more voters, which will trigger additional investigation and expense. Responsible election administration might demand that pollworkers undergo training in how to scrutinize IDs, much as bank tellers have to learn how to tell real currency from fake. Yet, they’re also trying to keep voting lines moving.
The bottom line is that an ID in and of itself is not necessarily proof of a person’s identity. People working at the polls, however, will have to make a judgment about the authenticity of each one presented to them. As this law assumes that voter fraud is a significant problem in North Carolina, election workers will be expected to assume many of the IDs they see are phony and they should challenge all those that raise suspicions.
That will include your picture if you had gray hair when your photo was made but you’re a vibrant redhead now. Or if you’ve shaved your beard or added a few pounds. Or if anything else raises a question. Obviously the verification process is going to be highly subjective and predicated on the suspicion that you’re not entitled to vote unless you can prove otherwise.

In Why Photo ID Laws Are Not the Answer,   Thomas Bates with Rock the Vote describes the hurdles a would be “voter impersonator” would have to overcome to commit “voter fraud”: 

  • Travel to the proper polling place for a particular voter whose name and address is memorized
  • Accurately forge the voter’s signature
  • Potentially have to provide other information about the voter (utility bill, last four digits of her Social Security number)
  • Make sure that voter has not already voted absentee or requested an absentee ballot
  • Know that the voter has not moved and re-registered at her new location or hasn’t been removed from the rolls for another reason
  • Know that the voter has not already voted that day and does not plan to vote before the polls close
  • Wait in line to cast a ballot in that voter’s name
  • Risk detection from a poll worker who may know the registered voter
  • Face fines and jail time

All this just to cast one misbegotten vote? Consider that mail ballot fraud is a much more efficient and less risky way to commit election fraud. One fraudster or his/her team can rig more than enough votes to impact the outcome of an election, with far less risk of exposure.

Just like Bob Hall said,  “Voter photo ID bill is a sham, as phony as a three dollar bill.”

The voter photo ID law is just what we don’t like about Big Government. It is costly, complicated, and doesn’t work.  It has the added flaw of disenfranchising masses of legal voters, including the elderly, the rural, women, and disadvantaged whose vote may be their only voice in govt.


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