The North Carolina House of Representatives today joined the NC Senate in overriding Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of legislation implementing photo ID for voting. Senate Bill 824 (Daniel, R-Burke, Cleveland; Ford, D-Mecklenburg; and Krawiec, R-Forsyth, Yadkin) implements a state constitutional amendment approved by voters last November by a margin of 55-45 percent.
In vetoing the bill, Cooper gave three rationales. First, that the bill does not address absentee ballot fraud. Second, that it would discourage voters by presenting them with new rules. His final argument was that the bill came from “sinister and cynical origins” of trying to suppress voters.
Cooper’s first assertion is correct as far as it goes. While the bill does update and liberalize ID requirements to request an absentee ballot, it does not address absentee ballot harvesting. That issue will no doubt be on the General Assembly’s agenda during next year’s long session.
Cooper’s claim that implementation of the NC Constitution’s requirement for a photo ID for voting would needlessly confuse voters will only be correct if he and the State Board of Elections make that a self-fulfilling prophesy through shoddy implementation. The bill clearly lays out which forms of ID would be acceptable. Any confusion that results from poor implementation of the ID requirement can be addressed by members of the General Assembly being diligent in their oversight function.
The wide range of approved IDs in the implementing bill, including IDs issued by local boards of elections for free, should be more than enough to address concerns Cooper expressed about the NC Constitution’s voter ID requirement being some form of voter suppression. The implementing bill also includes provisions for making sure voters can cast provisional ballots if they do not have their ID with them.
It is worth noting that Cooper’s objection to the voter ID implementation was not based on either the timing of its passage (perhaps he would have preferred that the next session of the General Assembly take it up) or with any details about acceptable types of IDs or rules for provisional ballots. He objected in principal to that provision of the NC Constitution and the “sinister and cynical” majority of North Carolina voters who voted for the amendment. Respecting North Carolina voters begins with respecting their expressed wishes.