Legislators can’t get blank check on voter ID

To the Editor,

Mitch Kokai in a recent column in The Robesonian titled “Voter ID easily in mainstream” argues that the current voter ID constitutional amendment would “move this state into the electoral mainstream,” but that argument ignores critical facts: This amendment would actually make North Carolina an extreme outlier, and do so while asking voters to act on blind faith.

Only two states have a identification requirement written into their state constitution: Missouri and Mississippi. Missouri’s language does not mandate that identification include a photo, and Mississippi’s language includes both exceptions and a requirement that government make free IDs available. North Carolina’s proposed amendment goes further then what’s on the books anywhere else — and by going in the Constitution, it will become the framework against which any implementing statute will be assessed by state courts. Mr. Kokai cites our neighboring states as potential models, but each of those states implemented its law in a regular statute, and none had their laws invalidated for discriminating against black voters with “almost surgical precision.”

Instead, we have a proposed amendment that’s so vague that lawmakers are promising to fill in the details later. And while Mr. Kokai suggests that lawmakers could introduce a law that permits many types of identification, the last time they came up with an ID requirement, it was so extreme that it was thrown out in court. The piece also contends that these details can be debated once the amendment is passed, but they make all of the difference. Voters deserve to know what they’re voting on. The voter ID amendment is a blank check to lawmakers who cannot be trusted with it.

Tomas Lopez

Executive director

Democracy North Carolina.