Voter Supression Bill

Think voter photo ID requirements are harmless? Take a closer look.

Do you have a parent in a rest home or a child in college? How about a friend who cannot drive? These citizens — along with tens of thousands of other North Carolinians — will find it difficult to vote under the rules of a proposed photo ID bill that addresses a problem that does not exist. Only you can stop this costly, unneeded legislation.

I've heard that the Voter Photo ID bill may be moving soon, in the next week or so.  It would make NC one of the hardest places to vote in the nation, it would supress voting, and it will cost the state millions during a time of budget cuts.  Towards that end I've been volunteering some with a voter rights group Democracy NC, including attending their constituent lobbying day last month, and I believe the college democrats of NC are doing something similar tomorrow.  And to try to give them some additional air support, I figured I'd blog about it, and do a WCHL commentators segment on it too which Ron said will likely go on air on Monday (text of that commentary below).


This is Jake Gellar-Goad. I'm a Chapel Hill resident, and I've got something to say.

The state General Assembly may soon pass a Photo Voter ID law designed to make voting much less accessible. On the one hand voter fraud has been shown to be a nearly non-existent problem in North Carolina given the voter registration requirements already in place, and there’s the fact that casting even one fraudulent vote makes you a felon. On the other hand, WRAL recently reported that nearly one million registered North Carolina voters don't have an appropriate photo ID.

I recently attended a constituent lobbying day at the General Assembly to share my concerns about this bill, and I heard stories from many different kinds of folks who shared concerns about their votes being suppressed. I heard concerns from students, from the elderly, from communities of color, and from so many others.

As something of a college town, Chapel Hill has a vested interest in encouraging our student population to vote and to be civically engaged. Getting young people to vote is hard enough to begin with, without additional restrictions and costs. And how often does a college student have a valid driver license, with a current address? I think back to my days as a freshman, and I didn’t update my license when I was living on campus after moving from my hometown. Many freshmen don’t even have cars, which gives them even less incentive to pay to update their license. And how many people update it again every time they change dorms, or change apartments?

The fact is that this voter suppression bill will make voting more difficult, and more expensive. I heard the figure that only 18 confirmed cases of voter fraud occurred in the 2008 elections, even with record turnout. Yet there are 1 million registered voters who could be detoured from voting if this bill passes. Which makes our society less democratic? You do the math.

Please let your elected officials in the General Assembly know that you oppose the Voter Photo ID bill, and above all please call or e-mail Governor Perdue to ask her to veto this if it hits her desk.


Some additional links of interest for those interested in the costs and other aspects associated with this type bill:


For anyone who wants to make that call or e-mail to Governor Perdue's office to ask that she veto such a bill, here you go:

Phone: (800) 662-7952 or (919) 733-2391

Or use the online contact form here:



Thanks for posting this, Jake. The GOP has repeatedly shown interest in keeping young people and students from voting. 

At the committee meeting I attended they were talking about many voting related issues, presumably because they’re considering eliminating them.  Voter owned elections, pre-registration, early voting, and photo voter ID voting restrictions.  Anything to make voter involvement harder, and more costly, to control and suppress votes.If we lose this battle, it will only be the first of many dominos to fall. Another link of interest:

I Googled the term "young republicans voter registration" and got back TONS of active links to programs in place to get the vote out amongst young people.   Why would the GOP have "repeatedly shown interest in keeping young people and students from voting" ?  And who did this?  When?As the father of a very social 18 year old, I literally cannot think of ANY people that age who do not posess photo identification.  Not one.However, I do consider, every time I vote, about how easy it would be for someone to come in before me and claim they were me and steal my right to vote.  Fat chance they'd believe me if I claimed someone did so; no way would I get to vote, and who knows what sort of mess I'd then have to go through to clean up the record.  I also seriously doubt the so-called facts regarding how others don't have access to suitable IDs.  My elderly aunt is a Catholic nun, doesn't drive, and her order used to be cloistered!  But even she has suitable ID ... I call shenanigans on assertions about people not having IDs.  By the way, she voted for Obama.  I still love her anyway.  (She has Alzheimer's.)I am very much in favor of suitable ID being required when one votes.  The very idea that such is not now required is mind-boggling.

indicates that such new restrictions will impact hundreds of thousands more dems than gops, but I didn't see a break down by age there.  Still, I agree that while many 18 year olds may have photo IDs, most of them I was around when I was a freshman in college didn't not have photo IDs that would have worked for voting for all the reasons mentioned in my commentary.

 "I call shenanigans on assertions about people not having ID"

Why would the State Board of Elections and WRAL be engaging in such shenanigans?  What is the basis for shenanigans calling?

Do you really believe that Republicans somehow manage to have IDs suitable for voting when so many Democrats do not?   What magical powers we Republicans must have!  (By the way, I tried to reply to Ruby's comment, not yours; it was her assertion I was questioning.)  In any case, I'm unmoved, based on your cited organizations' partisan stances.  Both organizations have axes to grind; you wouldn't believe the 'assertions' had their opposites been made on Fox News, either.  We'll agree to disagree on the validity of the claims.The Washington Post article includes the only actually objective assessment I've seen on the issue:"Election policy debates like photo ID and same-day registration have become so fierce around the country because they are founded more on passionate belief than proven fact," said Doug Chapin, an election-law expert at the Pew Center on the States. "One side is convinced fraud is rampant; the other believes that disenfranchisement is widespread. Neither can point to much in the way of evidence to support their position, so they simply turn up the volume." Mr. Chapin has it exactly correct. More noise from the Left and the Right.  And as usual, much more from the Left than the Right.  I am basing my own opinion not on partisan dictum but on my personal concern that somebody will steal my right to vote.  Right now, it's easy to do.  Too easy.  WAY too easy.  This needs to be fixed. 

Do you really believe that Republicans somehow manage to have IDs
suitable for voting when so many Democrats do not?   What magical powers
we Republicans must have!

When the GOP gets to decide exactly what IDs count, and what IDs don't (like student IDs), then yes I believe it doesn't take magic.  Here are some more detailed numbers:

For example, African Americans make up 22% of all Active voters, but they are 32% of the Active voters without an ID. That means if you’re a Black Active voter, you’re 48% more likely to not have a current photo ID than other Active voters. Seniors over 65 are 20% of Active voters but 32% of those with no ID; they are 64% more likely to not have a current photo ID than younger voters. Women and Democrats are also significantly more likely to not have a current ID than men and Republicans.

And given that the GOP general assembly abandoned calls to do independent redistricting the second they got into power (something the Dems are also at fault for not doing earlier), given that they are willing to spend millions with this voter supression effort during a time of budget crisis to stop 18 cases of voter fraud at the risk of disenfrachising a million citizens, and their willingness to pursue a marriage dirscrimination constitutional amendment that may also cost millions to implement even though its mostly redundant with existing law (except for the new amendment possibly making it impossible for businesses to offer partner benefits the way they choose), I have trouble believing that they isn't just engaging in partisan politics no matter the cost to the budget.

but on my personal concern that somebody will steal my right to vote

That is a fair concern, but we have to take a wider view and think of everyone who might be detoured from voting, and consider the numbers of what is actually beared out.

This bill would require: 

(1) A current and valid photo identification. (2) A copy of one of the following documents that shows the name and address of the voter: a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document.

I don't know if I could vote under this bill. I don't work, so no paycheck. My utility bills and bank statements are all online; I don't know if print-outs would be accepted. I still get an OWASA bill but I think it's only in my husband's name. It would come down to whether I could find a copy of our property tax bill.I think the bill is incredibly restrictive and an unreasonable burden. 

even if they do utility bills, government checks, propety tax bills, or the like, students living on campus aren't likely to have those.  So I agree that this is an unreasonable burden on many groups.

... that there have been points in my life when I could not produce any verifiable piece of paper that indicate my relationship with the address where I indeed lived. People have all sorts of living situations, the young and poor especially. I can think of three places I lived while in college for which I have no documentation of living at that address (a sublet, a temporary housing arrangement for a field site study program, and a verbal lease agreement). Group housing arrangements - either shared houses or dorms - often leave you with no bills in your name. I knew no classmates in college who updated their drivers licenses to reflect their college addresses, even if they had no intent of moving back home. It costs time and money, after all, and comes with no tangible benefit - a poll tax by another name.

When you were in college you had a college photo ID.  A drivers lisence from another state is also a photo ID.  Those are both very strong ID forms in the sense that they have a photo and they're very hard to fake.  We don't even require the weakest forms of ID.   How about a light bill for 123 Main St in the name of John Smith with a piece of paper saying "I, John Smith of 123 Main St, certify that Sally Jones lives here too."  How about a sheet of paper saying "I, Jim Wilson, head of the Homeless Shelter, certify that Mark Benson lives here."  It takes almost no effort to have just _something_.  Yes, such things could be abused or forged but remember, we're comparing situation of requring no proof at all, which can be much more easily abused.  And calling it a poll tax is an insult to the people who suffered under a real poll tax.

My UNC OneCard did not state my address of residence, or for that matter confirm anything about my state of residence or my citizenship. Not everyone has a student ID card, even students. I'm enrolled part time in a graduate program at NC State but have no NC State ID card nor am I required to get one. In fact, it would be quite a burden to do so. When voting is hard, only people of privilege vote.

  And calling it a poll tax is an insult to the people who suffered under a real poll tax.

The NAACP doesn't think so. Neither does the ACLU. Both use that language when referring to various voter ID bills proposed around the country. I'd consider either national organization to be a credible source when it comes to voting discrimination issues.

Your UNC OneCard had your name and a photo of you.  Instead of just going up and saying "I'm John Smith" you'd say "I'm John Smith" and then show a UNC ID with the name John Smith and a photo that looks like you.  That is a tremendous improvement.  Remember, we're comparing it to offering no proof at all. And when election day is on a weekday and almost all early voting is on weekdays and almost all the voting hours are weekdays are during common working hours, then it's people that don't work common working hours that are the privileged people.  IIRC, you voted in the middle of a weekday last election.  OTOH voting on a weekday is a massive PITA for me.  So it's you that are privileged and me that is not in this regard. When I complained about how unfair the early voting hours were last year I don't recall you jumping to my defense.

"you'd say "I'm John Smith" and then show a UNC ID with the name John
Smith and a photo that looks like you.

Unfortuantely that is not what the GOP General Assembly has in mind.

I realize that's not what the GOP GA has in mind but if the unreasonable in one direction status quo didn't exist then the unreasonable in the other direction GOP GA proposal wouldn't have the chance it does.  It's regular people going in to vote and being amazed that all you have to do is give a name and the annoyance that results that is the seed for allowing politicians to make such a big change.

Joe, for whatever it's worth to you, I strongly supported extending the early voting hours last year so that people like you who don't have weekday availability could vote, and helped get the OCDP to lobby the board of elections (to no avail) to extend the hours and keep the Carrboro early voting location open.

How are early voting hours unfair when early voting was held on Saturdays as well as Weekdays (and the Weekday hours were morning and extended into evening hours).

What percentage of these college students register their cars at there respected schools and pay local TAXES on these vehicles? That would be one way to prove you live someplace.

25% of UNC students aren't even allowed to have cars in Chapel Hill, and the rest are strongly discouraged from it, especially if they live on campus.

I'd love for OC to find some way to better enforce requirement for registering cars locally.  It is the law and we as taxpayers make up the difference when these car owners leave their cars registered out of state.

"We as taxpayers make up the difference"  in what?  Does having an automobile in Orange County, registered in the County or not, cost the County money?No, it doesn't.So "we taxpayers" aren't making up any difference because there's none to make up.  All this illegal practice results in is a few dollars' less property tax valuation for the looters to go after.  The value of cars and such ought not to be added to the property tax base anyway.  But the government gets away with it because somebody, years ago, let them. Now, if you want to fix the property tax problem in Orange County, you could go a LONG way by addressing a LEGITIMATE issue, which is the abuse of the Use Valuation loophole. Cut that out, then make some meaningful reductions in services to match honest revenue expectations, and  voila!  tax problem solved.

A significant number of clients I see in my job at a local social services agency would not be able to produce the 2 documents that would be required to vote.

This proposed bill that requires too much ID was made possible by the previous rule that required too little.  Seriously, you can go in and tell them you're X with no proof at all and then vote?  That is just plain nutty.  When you have a situation like that you're begging for the inevitable backlash.Do you have to show ID when you register to vote?  I don't know the answer to that.  But if you do then (1) you had proof at that time you registered and (2) you have the resulting voter regisration card.  Or if you don't even have to show ID when you register to vote then that's even worse.I used to take my voters regisration card when I went to vote figuring I'd need that in addition to ID.  It still amazes me that you need nothing.  I'm tempted to go up sometime and say "I'm Roy Williams" or "I'm Holden Thorpe."   If you did something like that it would raise flags.  If you lied though by saying you were John Smith it would raise no flags.  So prominent people, or people that the person at the voting place know personally, get more protection than do others.  Another absurdity of the whole situation.  I'm sorry, folks, but a situation in the USA in the year 2011 where you can go in, say you're X, vote and walk out is just plain ridiculous.

Jose you are spot on. I have been an election judge in Orange County for 20 plus years and worked all over this County. For the last 5 years in Chapel Hill and voters like you come in and want to show an ID and we tell them that is not necessory unless the poll book has your name flagged. Now in the precinct I work which has roughly 1300 voters I can usually count those flagged voters on both hands. The point I am trying to make is there is a large number of voters I come in contact with who think there should be some kind of id needed to vote and Orange County is not known as a hotbed for republicans. Furthermore the people who express an opinion for id required cover all age groups and ethnic backgrounds. If you come into to vote and tell me you are Roy Williams and give the right address I cannot ask for id as long as Roy has not voted then you get a ballot. This bill would help all of us.

In your 20 years as an election judge, how many times have you seen someone try to vote, only to find out that an imposter had already voted using their name and address?  I've not seen evidence that there is a significant problem.  If it aint broke...

even if it is broke, we have to evaluate whether or not the "solution" is worse than the problem.  If we all share a concern about our society remaining very democratic and valuing people's right to vote, then the GOP proposed solution very much offends that value and restricts many more people's ability to vote.

No one including the State Board of Elections can answer that question because maybe only 1% of the voters on the books are required to show an id of any kind and then only once and they are in free for life.

Some excellent points about why the proposed bill is a bad idea are made in this column... 


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