Robesonian

Pierce: Voter ID coming

RALEIGH — State Rep. Garland Pierce doesn’t much care for a proposal being floated in the General Assembly to have voters decide on a constitutional amendment requiring photo identification to vote in North Carolina.

But the Wagram Democrat said there may not be much that he and other opponents of the measure can do. He said most polls show that the idea has wide support.

“We should resist the urge to make a whole lot out of it,” Pierce said. “It is going to pass, No. 1.”

House Speaker Tim Moore filed House Bill 1092 that states: “Every person offering to vote in person shall present photo identification before voting in the manner prescribed by law.”

“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,” Moore, a Cleveland County Republican, said in a statement.

Moore’s bill must pass both legislative chambers by a three-fifths supermajority vote to appear on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot.

“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,” Moore said.

Pierce said he disagrees that voter IDs will serve as security measures and instead sees it as a way to disenfranchise elderly and minority voters. He pointed to a federal court ruling that found a previous voter ID efforts as blatant attempts to disenfranchise voters of color.

The General Assembly passed House Bill 589 in 2013. Its provisions included a photo ID requirement to vote. The law was challenged after its debut in the May 2016 primary. The 4thU.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck it down.

“It’s unfortunate that legislators think that they can hide another unconstitutional voter suppression effort by putting it on the ballot as a constitutional amendment, and trying to trick voters into doing their dirty work for them,” Allison Riggs, senior voting rights attorney at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said in a news release.

Riggs said thousands of eligible North Carolina voters lack photo identification and those voters are disproportionately voters of color, elderly voters, women, and voters with physical challenges.

But Moore gave little credence to the lack of photo ID argument. He said North Carolina residents possess and show IDs for far more trivial matters than voting.

North Carolina is one of only 18 states that don’t require any form of voter identification at the polls. It is the last state in the Southeast not to have voter ID.

Pierce said the real goal of the public vote on IDs is to increase voter turnout.

“I’m think that the party in power is using this to get people to the polls,” he said. “Since I expect it to pass, my real concern is the different kinds of ID that will be accepted and making sure that we do all we can so people can vote and go to vote.”

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Scott Witten

Editor

The Associated Press assisted with the article.