The N.C. House of Representatives passed the much-debated “Voter Information Verification Act” Wednesday, with a vote of 81-36. The bill, House Bill 589, passed on its third reading.
If the bill is passed by the N.C. Senate and signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory, North Carolinians will be required to have a photo ID to cast their votes in the 2014 municipal election.
“The vote is the result of a 10-month process that included multiple public hearings, hours of testimony by experts and members of the public, and in-depth analysis of voter ID systems in numerous other states,” according to a press release issued by Speaker of the House Tom Tillis. “The bill is a product of months of work by bill sponsors and leadership of the House Elections Committee: Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), Rep. Harry Warren (R-Rowan), Rep. Tom Murry (R-Wake), Rep. Ruth Samuelson (R-Mecklenburg) and Rep. Tim Moore (R-Cleveland).”
“I’m kind of excited about the bill,” said N.C. Rep. Mark Brody, who represents Anson County. “It’s the culmination of a little over two years… and it’s a vast improvement over the previous bill that was vetoed by our previous governor.”
According to Tillis and Brody, most N.C. voters favor the photo ID requirement. “Around 70 percent of the population supports this legislation,” Brody said, “and I really do believe that once Anson County gets involved and gets used to, they’ll like it, too, and see that the idea behind it is only to prevent voter fraud.”
“North Carolinians consistently and overwhelmingly support photo ID requirements for voting,” Tillis said in the press release. “This bill not only responds to the opinions of our constituents, but also provides individuals without photo ID’s with an opportunity to acquire them at no cost. This common-sense measure will protect the integrity of the ballot box and restore confidence in our election system.”
The bill would require citizens to show photo identification when voting and would be fully implemented by 2016. “The bill, once it becomes a law, beginning in 2014, we’re going to start asking if you have an ID when you vote,” Brody explained. “The idea is, if you don’t have one, you can start the process to get one by the 2016 general election.”
As part of the bill, citizens without photo IDs would be able to procure one at no cost to them, Brody said. “You have to be using it to vote to get it for free,” he added. “But there are provisions in the bill that if you can’t afford to get an ID, it will be free of charge.”
Anson County Board of Elections director Steve Adams said that although the idea behind the bill is to prevent voter fraud, he doesn’t think it’s been much of a problem here. “I have no recollection of any voter fraud since I’ve been here in 2008,” Adams said. “I don’t think it’ll have much of an effect, if any.”
Brody said that in other states that have passed similar laws, minority voter registration has actually increased. Still, Adams doesn’t see that happening in Anson. “I think our elections have always had a very good response and I don’t see this changing that,” he said. “We will have things in place to ensure that we keep having high voter turnout.”
The bill now moves to the Senate. House Bill 589 can be viewed online at ncleg.net, by clicking on “Find A Bill” and entering the bill number.