North Carolina’s legislative leaders have been relentless, spending untold sums of tax dollars, in their efforts to fix something that isn’t broken.
Under the guise of preventing voter fraud that doesn’t exist, they’ve spared little effort in crafting laws requiring voters provide photo identification to cast ballots.
North Carolinians voted to amend the State Constitution to require photo identification to cast a ballot. That vote was NOT a license to discriminate. That is NOT what voters intended.
Presenting identification to prove that voters are, indeed who they say they are, is appropriate and we have long supported it. But the reality is that legislative leaders want to manipulate a reasonable practice into a way to discriminate and make it harder on some voters who have not, historically, cast ballots along the partisan lines they’d prefer. They can, and should, implement the voter photo ID requirement in a in a legal way.
This is not even close to being the biggest issue with voting in North Carolina. The biggest issue is that tens of thousands of people who are eligible to register and vote don’t do it.
In the 2020 election there was the biggest turnout ever. Still, about 1 million North Carolina citizens who were registered and eligible to vote failed to show up at the polls. Then there’s another 1 million citizens on top of that, who don’t even bother to register to vote.
If there’s anything our legislative leaders should be obsessed with, it is how to get EVERY person eligible, to register and make it as easy as possible for them to cast their ballots.
How do we know that people impersonating others to vote is not a problem? Because North Carolina’s 2020 election was the most scrutinized ever. Just ask current state Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Newby and former Chief Justice Cheri Beasley.
Newby won that election by 407 votes. That is an average 0.15 votes per precinct or 4.07 votes per county. Ballots were checked and re-checked. Tallies were counted and re-counted. There was not the hint of voter fraud uncovered — and this was a contest where even a small matter would have had a major impact.
Checking to be sure voters are who they say they is fine.
Still, again and again — most recently last week — courts have properly ruled the laws these legislators have crafted implementing the voter photo ID requirement are unconstitutional.
In their well-documented 102-page decision, Superior Court Judges Vince Rozier and Michael O’Foghluha clearly demonstrate that the legislature crafted a law intended to “target African American voters.” They further note: “We do not find that any member of the General Assembly who voted in favor of S.B. 824 harbors any racial animus or hatred towards African American voters, but rather, as with H.B. 589, that the Republican majority ‘target[ed] voters who, based on race, were unlikely to vote for the majority party. Even if done for partisan ends, that constitute[s] racial discrimination.’”
They also were clear in why they found the law unconstitutional as well as providing guidance for legislators to pass a voter ID law that could pass constitutional muster.
Most significantly, legislators need to direct their energies and resources on ways to get MORE people who are eligible to register to vote and do just as much to make voting as accessible and convenient as possible.
Today’s editorial is from Capitol Broadcasting Company. The views expressed are not necessarily those of this newspaper.