Photo requirement in voter ID bill could affect hundreds of thousands of N.C. voters

Posted on: February 8th, 2011 by Ned Barnett 11 Comments

If Republicans insist that a new voter ID law require voters to produce a state-issued ID, there will be several hundred thousand North Carolinians who will need to have their picture taken.

That’s the finding of a preliminary comparison conducted by the N.C. State Board of Elections of the state’s 6.3 million registered voters and data bases of people with North Carolina driver licenses or an ID card issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles. The raw comparison found just over one million registered voters who don’t appear on the DMV lists, but that number is likely to be cut when the comparison is refined to eliminate mismatches caused by maiden names and other factors

The State Board of Elections found 1,005,585 registered voters whose names or other information did not appear in the DMV data bases. Of those, the breakdown by political party was:

  • 508,090 Democrats
  • 277,242 Republicans
  • 219,315 unaffiliated
  • 934 Libertarians

By race, the breakdown was:

  • 267,396 blacks
  • 665,421 whites
  • 8,908 Asian
  • 9,767 American Indian or Alaska native
  • 6,273 two or more races
  • 22,443 other
  • 25,373 undesignated

Gary O. Bartlett. Executive Director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, said the 1,005,585 number could drop substantially with further refinement of the comparison, but it appears that there are at least 700,000 North Carolina voters who lack a DMV-issued photo ID.

A likely sponsor of the voter ID bill, state Rep. Ric Killian (R-Mecklenburg), said Tuesday that he has not seen the results of the comparison and could not comment.

Bartlett has suggested to Killian that any voter identification requirement be limited to presenting a voter registration card, but he said he won’t know the requirements “until I see a bill.”

Currently, voters must produce identification when they register to vote and voting fraudulently is already a felony, but there is no identification requirement at the polls. In the 2010 election that gave Republicans control of the General Assembly, the GOP included passage of a voter ID bill as one of its top priorities.

Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina, a voting rights advocacy group, has reviewed the State Board of Elections findings and said the results confirm concerns that an ID requirement would effect minority and older voters more than others.

“It’s a huge number of people. It is disproportionately African American, disproportionately older,” he said.

Hall said the findings should make Republicans reconsider whether they need a new law to address incidents of fraud that most election officials say are extremely rare.

“It should give them pause to consider what damage they are doing to the rights of people, hundreds of thousands of people,” Hall said.

Tags: , , , , ,