RALEIGH – Over 15 months and one primary election ago, North Carolina voters expressed their desire for voter ID. Despite the millions of dollars poured into disinformation campaigns, a clear and decisive majority in the state expressed a desire to amend the constitution and implement voter ID in 2018. And who could blame them? Election security is a very real concern, with several instances of alleged election fraud, not the least of which included McCrae Dowless’ extensive ballot harvesting operation, necessitating serious conversations about policy reform in order to ensure election integrity.
Voter ID is a common sense measure that would be a step in the right direction to addressing one aspect of the broader security threat. It would ensure that those who are casting a ballot are who they say they are, serving as a barrier against someone else voting in your name. Certainly, it is not a panacea for all election security issues, just like the one medical treatment isn’t going to cure every ailment. However, it’s one policy prescription that North Carolina voters and 35 other states recognize as a way to combat voter fraud.
Which is why Gov. Roy Cooper’s opposition to its implementation is so concerning. The election results were still fresh when Gov. Cooper sought to suppress the will of the people by vetoing SB 824, the bill that would implement voter ID.
Sadly, Cooper’s track record of questionable and hypocritical behavior on election issues isn’t solely limited to this veto of SB 824. After becoming governor, Cooper revealed his poor leadership by losing not one, not two, but three State Board of Elections chairs, each for a reason related to negligence or questionable behavior. Nonetheless, “undeterred by his previous failures,” Gov. Cooper “went back to the hyper-partisan well by naming Damon Circosta to the board,” writes Andy Jackson, Civitas’ elections policy analyst. Circosta has an extensive partisan background, not the least of which was his leadership at an organization that was a founding member of Blueprint NC, which was a 2013 leaked strategy memo that that detailed the coordinated effort by leftist groups to “eviscerate” and “cripple” Republican leadership.
Furthermore, in an act of hypocrisy, last year the governor co-authored an op-ed in the Washington Post that proves problematic for him in two ways:
Out of the gate, Cooper writes, “Elections should be decided by the voters.” Unfortunately, he seems to only believe this when it comes to outcomes that he agrees with. The voters couldn’t have been more clear when they told the General Assembly they wanted voter ID during the 2018 election. When do North Carolina voters get to decide, governor?
Cooper continues, “Gerrymandering also has a toxic, polarizing effect on the conduct of elected officials. It makes them more beholden to the party leaders who draw the boundaries than to the voters who live within them.”
He does not, however, acknowledge, even by citation or endnote, his own involvement in redistricting in the 90s as a state senator or his selective defense of the state while serving as North Carolina attorney general. In 2002, Cooper made sure to offer a defense of the state Democrats’ gerrymandered districts, yet in 2016 chose not to offer a defense of voter ID. His partisan bias has served to work against the people of North Carolina at multiple turns.
Although we hope Gov. Cooper will stop using the power of his office to suppress North Carolinians’ votes, we won’t hold our breath.
Civitas will continue to fight for election integrity in our state, demanding that the voice of North Carolina voters is not only heard, but honored. You can learn more about our election integrity efforts here.