In the wake of a decision Friday by a federal appeals court in Virginia, North Carolina residents won’t have to worry about flashing a photo ID when they cast a ballot on Nov. 8 for offices ranging all the way up to the presidency.
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, in reversing an earlier court decision that upheld the voting law, said the Republican-crafted legislation was discriminatory, and in particularly put up unnecessary hurdles for black people, saying “the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history.”
So let’s get three basic truths about this state’s voter ID law out of the way.
— No. 1: Republicans who crafted the law absolutely wanted to make it more difficult for people who traditionally vote Democratic to cast a ballot, not only people of color, but poor people, the elderly and even the young. There is nothing noble about their intent.
— No. 2: When Democrats say the legislation is a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist, they are being disingenuous. While we would never argue that voter fraud is rampant, it does exist, and it can affect local elections with modest turnouts as we have seen in Robeson County. It’s why nine months after the first ballots were cast, we still don’t have a mayor in Pembroke.
The lack of court cases simply testifies to how easy we have made it to commit voter fraud. If a body is found riddled by bullets, we don’t need an arrest to know that a murder has occurred.
— No. 3: Voting is easy for anyone who is determined to do so. Those who lament this state’s vote ID law can only be disenfranchised because of their own apathy. The 2013 voter ID law in North Carolina delayed its implementation until 2016, giving anyone three years to get a free ID. North Carolina even has early voting, which about a dozen states, including dark-blue New York, don’t allow.
All that said, a law is what a court decides, and if North Carolina’s voter ID law doesn’t meet constitutional muster, then it must be scuttled. We are sure that this case will continue up the judicial ladder, and will be watched not only in this state, but across the country as more than 30 states have some hybrid of a law requiring a voter ID.
But it is clear that Republicans in this state overreached, and must now decide whether to rewrite the law so that it will enhance the integrity of elections without compromising some of the state’s most fragile voting populations. Or the Republicans can risk further embarrassment in the court system, which has become routine, gay marriage being Exhibit A and House Bill 2 being on deck.
Right now Democrats are celebrating, knowing that a fence has been removed that might have kept voters away that could tip in their favor November elections up and down, and makes this purple state much more likely to go blue and in Hillary Clinton’s column.
But they have no claim to the pulpit. It was about a week ago that information was leaked about efforts by the Democratic National Convention to fix the election in favor of Clinton; in doing so, those Democratic leaders not only violated their own convention rules, they worked to disenfranchise more than 12 million voters who wanted Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee.
Perhaps Republicans and Democrats in this state can work together on a voter ID law that will protect a legitimately cast vote without denying anyone the right to do so.
You laughed, didn’t you?