Voter ID law threatens rights of most vulnerable
By Stephanie Carroll Carson
NC News Service
RALEIGH – North Carolina lawmakers continue to consider legislation that would require some type of voter ID when citizens go to the polls. This week the House Elections Committee will hold more panel discussions on the issue.
If an ID requirement were put in place, citizens such as Rocky Reese would be unable to vote. Homeless for 15 years, he is currently unable to secure the proper documents to get an ID.
“Being out on the streets, you’re not thinking about your ID,” Reese declared. “You’re thinking about survival. You’re thinking about where am I going to eat next. If you have never been there, you don’t know. You don’t feel accepted.”
Reese voted in last November’s election.
There are an estimated 600,000 people in North Carolina who do not have photo IDs.
State Representative David Lewis of HarnettCounty, a Republican, has been quoted as saying a new Voter ID law will be proposed by the end of the month.
Recently, several Democratic lawmakers filed an alternative to a Voter ID bill called the Voter Integrity and Protection Act (HB 253), which would ensure that no registered voter could be turned away because of a lack of ID.
Reverend Hugh Hollowell at Loveland Ministries in Raleigh, which serves the homeless population, doesn’t like a Voter ID requirement.
“It’s one of the tenets of American democracy that you don’t get to vote just if you have money,” he declared. “You get to vote if you’re a citizen. It’s purely an attack on the poor, and persons experiencing homelessness are the poorest of the poor.”
Supporters of a voter ID requirement claim it will cut down on voter fraud.
In 2008 in the North Carolina presidential election, with more than four million votes cast, there was just one case of voter-impersonation fraud referred for prosecution.