There was little hope when the 2012 short session opened that the State House would gain the Democratic votes needed to override Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of the voter photo ID bill – HB 351 – that originally passed both chambers in 2011. HB 351 requires voters to present valid photo identification in order to vote in person. The legislation offered, at no cost to the voter, voter identification cards to voters who do not have a valid form of ID.
After the Governor’s veto in 2011, the House attempted a veto override, but failed to reach the three-fifths majority of members present requirement to successfully override the bill. In a party line vote, 68 Republicans voted to override the veto, while 51 Democrats voted against the measure.
The only activity relating to a veto override of HB 351 in this year’s short session occurred when House leadership floated the idea of a compromise bill. Details of the plan were never made public and eventually the suggestion was rejected by both Republicans and Democrats. Democrats were unwilling to make any allowance for an ID requirement. Republicans believed that in order to gain Democratic votes, the bill would have been weakened to the point where it would cripple the law and do away with any assurances that voters were proving their identity before voting.
More than 30 states now have some sort of voter ID requirement. Furthermore, in a 2008 decision, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a photo ID requirement.
In addition, North Carolinians overwhelmingly support voter ID legislation. In a September 2011 Civitas poll, 77 percent of likely voters agree that a person who wishes to vote should be required to show photo identification before being allowed to cast a ballot. Also, in a January 2011 Civitas poll, 59 percent of likely voters oppose allowing unregistered people to register and vote on the same day, while only 29 percent of voters support the idea.
Therefore, the newly elected members of the 2013 session should be empowered to pass significant and much needed election reform legislation, starting with a quality and effective voter photo ID bill modeled after HB 351.