On voter ID, intent matters

The intent to break the law as opposed to actually breaking the law has been getting a bit of a workout lately. At first it seemed exclusive to the Clintons.

The FBI clearly laid out a case of how Hillary violated laws set in place to protect national security. The FBI called her careless. The agenct admitted she did things she wasn’t supposed to do. National security was at risk. Butthe FBI didn’t recommend indictment, as it didn’t think she intended to break the law.

As a political analyst, I’m not a legal expert. But it’s not often someone commits a crime but isn’t charged because they didn’t intend to do it. The guy robbed a bank but really didn’t mean to.

If that’s true then intent should work both ways. Imagine getting a ticket for running a stop sign you didn’t actually run. But the officer feels you intended to run it and that’s enough. When intent supersedes whether or not a crime actually occurred, that’s the slippery slope.

Proving intent is likened to proving thought. Again, we will leave that to the legal analysts. But political analysts are starting to scratch their heads. Lady Justice is supposed to be blind. Let’s take the most recent case, which also involved presuming intent.

How would you expect a judge appointed to the bench by Clinton and two by Obama to rule on North Carolina’s voter ID case? If you can predict the outcome based on the political persuasion of the judges we’ve left Lady Justice behind. Despite the fact 18 states already have a photo ID requirement or some form of ID requirement in 36 states, North Carolina’s ID law was deemed illegal by Democrat appointees to the federal bench.

The judges were aware voter ID has been deemed perfectly legal in other states. Surely, they were even aware the Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s photo ID law in 2008. Legal precedent was clear. But the liberal judges felt the Legislature intended to suppress minority votes.

A Civitas poll found that 84 percent of respondents support voter ID. Republicans supported it at a rate of 96 percent, unaffiliated voters were at86 percent and Democrats at 73 percent.

In state courts, opponents of the law argued the law would suppress minority votes. The argument fell on deaf ears when data revealed minority voting actually increased after the law and there was no evidence of suppression in other states with voter ID. Minority votes increased 10 percent after Indiana’s law.

Minority voters aren’t necessarily a reference to simply race either. Minority voters also include the elderly, the poor and others who not only are in the minority but are less likely to participate in the electoral process as well. This is the mathematics opponents seized upon to change their tactics in federal court. Quite frankly, their approach was brilliant.

Opponents used numbers of those without ID derived from all eligible voters rather than those who actually vote. Now that is actually a fair approach and though the number was still low, it is these poor, elderly and other minorities who don’t participate in the electoral process that would be most affected, if any. In that case, forget elections. They need an ID to receive government assistance.

But it is a bit disingenuous to assume minorities can’t get an ID and to presume legislators intended to disenfranchise because the required ID’s are those that the majority of people obtain from DMV at greater numbers than minorities. There is no direct cause and effect. But it sounds good.

Most likely both sides will come to a softened compromise before NC joins other states who require ID.


Phillip Stephens is chairman of the Robeson County Republican Party.

Phillip Stephens is chairman of the Robeson County Republican Party.

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