GOP proposal gives North Carolina voters final say on Voter ID

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) -- Republican leaders in North Carolina's General Assembly on Thursday announced their intention to amend the state's constitution and require voters to present photo identifications at the polls.

The proposal, officially filed as House Bill 1092, also allows lawmakers to further define exactly what forms of photo identification are acceptable.

"This commonsense measure to secure the integrity of our elections system is supported by the vast majority of North Carolinians who know protecting our democracy should be one of lawmakers' highest priorities," House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said. "The voters of North Carolina deserve a chance to weigh in on securing their own rights in the democratic process, and will have the final say on strengthening election protections."

To amend the state constitution, a three-fifths majority of both chambers of the General Assembly must approve the measure. In the House, that means 72 of 120 seats, while in the Senate that's 30 of 50; the Republican have a supermajority in both chambers, thus giving HB1092 a strong chance of passing.

If the measure passes during this session, as is expected, all North Carolina voters will have a chance to weigh in by casting their ballot in the November 2018 election.

"I'm never worried about putting an issue to the voters," Moore said.

North Carolina Republicans have tried legislating this before - and lost in court.

The 2013 Voter Integrity and Verification Act, signed by then-Gov. Pat McCrory, required voters who appear in person to cast ballots to show an accepted form of photo identification like a driver's license, a passport or a military ID. The law also eliminated same-day voter registration and ended out-of-precinct voting. The number of early-voting days was cut while the early-voting hours available stayed stable.

The U.S. Justice Department, the North Carolina NAACP chapter, and named voters sued after the law was passed, alleging it discriminates against poor and minority voters in violation of the Constitution and U.S. Voting Rights Act.

Democratic leaders on Thursday again condemned Republicans for their Voter ID proposal, calling it another attempt to "suppress" minority votes.

"The voter ID provisions are targeted at restricting African-American voting," Rep. Grier Martin (R-Wake County) told ABC11. "We've been down that road before in the south. What's going to happen is we know hundreds of thousands of African American voters in North Carolina do perceive this as a threat to their voting rights."

The American Civil Liberties Union also released a statement, saying, "This is the latest in a long line of measures North Carolina legislators have pushed with one clear goal: to suppress voter turnout by making it harder for some of our state's most marginalized voters, particularly people of color and those with low income, to participate in the democratic process."

The North Carolina NAACP also spoke out against the proposal.

"It was wrong in 2013, and it's still wrong in 2018. There is no version of a photo ID law that won't leave voters behind," said the Rev. Anthony Spearman, NC NAACP president. "We must end once and for all this period in North Carolina of "suppression sessions." The people of North Carolina want to participate in an election in 2018 that is about policy that will change our lives, not politics that puts politicians schemes to remain in power above the democratic process, what is morally and constitutionally sound, and the sacred rights of the people."

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, North Carolina is one of only 16 states that do not require any documentation at the polls in order to vote. On the contrary, the remaining 34 either require or recommend some form of identification.

Seven states - Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin - have passed laws with a strict mandate on photo identification to vote.
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