Groups gear up for fight against Voter ID bill

Published 10:59 am Thursday, January 31, 2013

By Stephanie Carroll Carson

NC News Service

RALEIGH – The North Carolina General Assembly will reconvene this week, and at least one lawmaker, State Representative Frank Iler of Brunswick County, says voter ID legislation will be the “first thing on the menu for lawmakers.”

A voter ID law was passed last session, but was vetoed by then Governor Beverly Purdue, a Democrat. Incumbent Republican Governor Pat McCrory says he would sign such legislation.

Allison Riggs, staff attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, says requiring ID would be an unfair burden on voters.

“I personally can’t get through life without a driver’s license, but there’s a lot of people who can and do go through life every day quite successfully without a driver’s license,” Riggs said, referencing that form of identification that proponents of the legislation cite as one way to prevent voter fraud.

Groups such as AARP and Disability Rights North Carolina are concerned about the burden a voter ID law would place on seniors or those with disabilities.

Corye Dunn is executive director of Disability Rights NC.

“We are talking about the fundamental way in which we participate in our democracy, and we want to preserve our clients’ ability to engage in our community in that way,” she says.

According to the North Carolina Board of Elections, more than 600,000 North Carolina voters do not have driver’s licenses. A study by the Voting Rights Institute estimates that enacting and implementing a voter ID law could cost the state as much as $34 million.

The voter ID law passed in the last legislative session would have been one of the most restrictive in the country. Four states currently have some type of voter ID law in effect, and four more have passed such laws but have not yet implemented them.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, voter fraud occurs very rarely in modern elections.