A right we have fought for time and time again

Published 6:45 pm Friday, October 12, 2018

To the Editor:

Voter photo ID, I’ve heard, “ensures you are who you say you are when voting in person.” Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? But our fellow North Carolinians are good people. At the polls, they already present themselves as the persons they claim to be.
Why such suspicion? Is there widespread voter fraud in North Carolina? No — an audit by the State Board of Elections found one case of voter fraud that an ID might have prevented, one case out of 4.8 million ballots cast. And, for the record, North Carolina does require identification to vote, including driver’s licenses, Social Security cards and utility bills. Plus, there are other checks at the polls: observers and a carefully-monitored database of voters’ names and addresses. The saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind.
What, specifically, would this amendment look like? What IDs are acceptable? Can you in good conscience agree to something if you don’t know the nuts and bolts of it? Would you give a salesman a blank check to find you a car—without examining the details of the purchase? No, you would negotiate for a reasonable deal. The devil is in the details, and we are not privy to the details of this amendment.
Why a constitutional amendment? In 2016, a federal appeals court found NC’s 2013 voter photo ID law to be illegal. Then why is our General Assembly trying again? Legal fees defending the voter law cost North Carolinians $4.9 million. We can all agree that $4.9 million could have been put to better use. If the amendment passes, there is likely to be more litigation, costing the state even more in legal fees.
What happens to people without a state-issued ID — the elderly, the poor, those physically challenged? For many, obtaining a photo ID would be a hardship. My mother, bedridden and wheelchair bound in a nursing home, would have needed medical transport to the DMV, an unnecessary burden (and cost) for a 94-year-old woman who had voted all her life in the 4th Ward in Washington.
I hear the rationale — you need a photo ID for other things like driving a car, why not a photo ID to vote? Voting is a guaranteed constitutional right while driving is a privilege. Why would we want to make it harder for any American citizen to exercise this sacred right, a right we have fought for time and time again?
Regardless of your political affiliation, this voter ID amendment is not a good idea. Protect our Constitution: Vote NO against the voter ID amendment on Nov. 6.

Sue Jefferson