The new majority in the North Carolina Legislature may need more than a little patience and determination to withstand the attacks headed their way if they keep their promise and pass legislation requiring a government issued photo ID to cast a ballot. The liberal/progressive groups who oppose a voter ID requirement are organized and ready to do what they can to defeat this measure. The ACLU, NAACP, League of Women Voters and Common Cause have been fighting this fight in Indiana and Georgia – the last two states to successfully enact voter ID legislation.
Incumbent legislators are familiar with the vocal groups planning to derail this common-sense measure. They are the same groups who lobbied for such inane and damaging election legislation as registration of 16 and 17 year olds and same-day registration (the law that allows people to register to vote and vote at the same time). Groups such as Democracy NC, FairVote and Southern Coalition for Social Justice will again walk the halls of the General Assembly trying to defeat the promised legislation.
For those new to the voter photo ID battle, it is helpful to become familiar with the opposition’s talking points. The same unsubstantiated arguments and non-sourced statistics are used in every state that entertains a voter ID law.
The voter ID issue also shines a light on the working relationship of liberal/progressive groups and the mainstream media. The media has begun to lay the groundwork here in North Carolina; the Charlotte Observer and the News and Observer have already written editorials in opposition to the proposed legislation. In addition, the Greensboro News and Record and this Asheville Citizen Times article echoed the talking points of the extreme left.
The News and Observer editorial stated that “In fact, not everyone does have a current ID. Estimates vary, but most show that some significant fraction of adults lacks the documentation required by stringent state Voter ID laws.” The News and Observer editorial writer offers no sources and no real numbers to back up this statement and the reader is left to wonder what “estimates” are being referenced.
The Charlotte Observer editorial, however, does site the Brennan Center for Justice when they claim that “voter ID laws usually reflect a ’particular policy agenda’ aimed at disenfranchising up to 10 percent of the vote.” The claim that 10-12% of the population does not have a valid ID is a common statistic bandied about – but has never been substantiated and is easily discredited.
A visit to the Brennan Center for Justice website confirms that they are the source for many of the erroneous statistics and opinions stated as fact in the mainstream media’s reports. The Center describes itself as “part think tank, part public interest law firm, part advocacy group.” They loosely point to “the data” and quote questionable surveys and elusive researchers for estimates of citizens without ID. The Brennan Center strongly opposes any voter ID requirements and used their resources to file an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit challenging the constitutionality of an Indiana law requiring citizens to present photo ID as a condition of voting. The Supreme Court issued their decision on April 28, 2008 and in a 6-3 decision upheld Indiana’s voter ID law. Justice Stevens concluded that “Each of Indiana’s asserted interests is unquestionably relevant to its interest in protecting the integrity and reliability of the electoral process.”
The Asheville Citizen Times article quoted Chris Kromm, executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies in Durham as saying, “A voter ID law is largely addressing a problem that doesn’t exist." He went on to say, "You have a greater chance of getting struck by lightning than having a case of voter fraud." Although credited to Kromm, this wording comes directly from a Brennan Center Blog.
There is credible research on the voter ID issue. Case in point, a study from the American University Center for Democracy & Election Management titled Voter IDs Are Not the Problem: A Survey of Three States included a survey of 2,000 registered voters. The results of the survey revealed only about 1 percent of registered voters do not have a photo ID. According to the study:
- Only about one percent of registered voters in all three states lack a photo ID
- In Indiana, which has the most stringent requirements, only 0.3 percent lacked an ID
- More than two-thirds of respondents believe the U.S. electoral system would be trusted more if voters were required to show a photo ID
The latest Civitas Institute poll (December 2010) corroborates the American University study. 600 registered voters were asked, “Do you personally have an official photo ID, such as a driver’s license, an ID card from the DMV, a military ID or a U.S. passport?
The result: 99 percent said yes while only 1 percent replied no.
In the same Civitas poll, 83 percent of respondents strongly favor a law that requires voters to show government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, before being allowed to cast a vote in an election. Moreover, 77 percent of those polled believe that a requirement to present voter ID would help stop voter fraud. Leaders of the new majority in the North Carolina Legislature have promised to pass legislation that would require voters to present a photo ID before casting a ballot. They will be encouraged to know that the people of North Carolina want this requirement too.