Going all out for voter IDPublished 11:32am Sunday, April 7, 2013
In these days of deep political division, there aren’t too many issues on which more than 75 percent of the electorate agrees. Requiring voters to show photo identification at the polling place is one of them.
A voter ID bill filed this past week by me and three of my House colleagues supports the will of the vast majority of North Carolina citizens, who want to have more confidence in the fairness and integrity of our elections. At the same time, it addresses the reasonable concerns of the 25 percent who oppose a voter ID requirement.
Under the bill, a wide variety of photo IDs would be accepted, including those up to ten years past their expiration date. A senior with a valid ID card at age 70 would be able to use that ID card indefinitely, regardless of expiration date. The bill exempts disabled people from the ID requirements, and it provides a means for those who can’t afford a photo ID to get one for free.
Voters who come to the polls on Election Day without an ID would cast provisional ballots. They’d then have to return to their local elections board office and show proof of their identity to have their provisional ballots counted.
Under the terms of the bill, the ID requirement would not take full effect until January 2016, but efforts to get the word out about it will begin immediately. The State Board of Elections would appoint up to five citizens to serve on a non-partisan Voter Information Verification Advisory board. The VIVA board would be supported by up to 14 new state elections board employees whose job through Dec. 31, 2016, would be to identify voters without a proper ID and help them get one.
Through weeks of public hearings and committee meetings, we believe we’ve crafted a bill that strikes the right balance between the public’s interest in ensuring the integrity of our elections and in limiting barriers to voting.
But there’s still time for input. On Wednesday, we’ll hold another public hearing in Raleigh at the Legislative Office Building. I’m especially interested in hearing about how we can make it as easy as possible for voters who don’t have photos IDs to get them. If you can’t be there, please contact me or your own state House representative with your thoughts on the issue.
Through this process, I’m not sure if we’ll change the minds of the any of the 25 percent who have opposed voter ID. But I am confident that when
this bill goes into effect, 100 percent of the people who want to vote will be able to cast a ballot.
Rep. Ruth Samuelson represents District 104 in the state House, where she serves as Republican Conference Leader.