Amendment calls for stricter voter ID procedures

Hot-button issue in voters’ hands

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This is the fifth in a series of articles offering explanations to voters of the six proposed amendments to the North Carolina Constitution.

We will offer the official explanation as offered by the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office, the Democratic and Republican explanations and/or objections.

The amendment to require voters present a photo ID before they cast their vote reads as follows on the ballot:

Constitutional amendment to require voters to provide photo identification before voting in person.

The topic has been one of the most discussed in recent political memory. Both voters and politicians have used it as a focal point in multiple cries of voter exclusion and voter fraud.

Now the voters of North Carolina will have one final say in whether or not a photo ID of some kind, not yet defined in the amendment, will need to be produced to vote in person.

The amendment requires voters to show photographic identification to a poll worker before casting their ballot, it does not include absentee voting.

According to Secretary of State Elaine Marshal’s official explanation, the legislature would make laws providing the details of acceptable and unacceptable forms of photo ID after the amendment is passed by voters. They would then be authorized to establish exceptions to the requirement to provide photographic identification for the purposes of voting. There is no official estimate of how much the proposed amendment would cost the state if it is approved.

Democrats raise several points against the measure calling it a block to several groups of voters. They say it makes it harder for seniors, veterans, young people and people of color to vote.

Democrats also argue since the amendment doesn’t specify what is an acceptable form of ID, it gives politicians a “blank check” to create new hurdles to the ballot box.

They also say past attempts were found illegal after politicians targeted African-Americans “with almost surgical precision.”

Republican state Rep. David Lewis of Dunn, who chairs the House Rules Committee, says the measure brings North Carolina in line with other states and will offer more integrity at the ballot box.

“Approving voter ID would place North Carolina in the mainstream with 34 other states that require some form of voter ID,” he said. “Under current law, North Carolina voters state only their name and residential address for election officials to verify their identity.”

Rep. Lewis said the need for a stricter voter ID law is paramount to integrity.

“Our goal is to ensure the gold standard in election integrity — that each person that is eligible to vote is able to cast their vote and those votes cumulatively determine who wins and loses our elections,” he said. “Confidence in democracy is essential to its longevity.”

In the next article we will discuss the final of the six amendments, strengthening victims’ rights, or what’s now known as Marsy’s Law.

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