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Voter ID bill moves ahead

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The N.C. Voter Photo ID Bill has passed the state Senate and looks to easily clear the House with local Republican lawmakers saying it is necessary and Democratic opponents maintaining the bill is another form of voter suppression.

Senate Bill 824 is the Republican follow-up to the voter ID constitutional amendment passed last month with wide support from North Carolina voters. If made into law the bill would secure elections, while allowing a broad range of photographic identification making it simple, easy and free to obtain a photo ID, according to supporters of the bill, including state Sen. Rick Horner, R-Nash.

The bill creates a new voter photo ID, which would be a voter registration card with the voter’s photo that can be obtained for free at county elections boards.

The following would also be acceptable forms of voter ID under the bill: state driver’s license or non-operator ID card; U.S. passport; tribal enrollment card of federally or state recognized tribe; military or veterans ID card; student ID cards from state universities, private universities and community colleges; employee ID cards issued by a state or local government entity; valid out-of-state license or non-driver ID if the voter registers within 90 days of the election.

“The list is so broad that the only thing that will be turned away is a hand-held mirror,” Horner said. “It's just to say that the person standing there is the person who registered. Everyone has an ID. If they don't, they can get one free.”

Horner said he is confident the bill will pass the House but allowed for possible hold ups.

“You don't know what the House will do, good lord,” Horner said.

State House Rep. Shelly Willingham, D-Edgecombe, said he thinks the bill will pass but not with his blessing.

“I'll vote against it,” Willingham said. “It will pass, but for the wrong reasons. It's all about voter suppression. It's not necessary otherwise.”

Horner said he figures the bill will be challenged in court.

“There are outliers who sue no matter what,” Horner said. “But the more consensus you get on legislation, the less likely you are to get sued. Democrats have been cut out of legislation so they've turned to the courts. And the courts are politicized. You don't think so, look at all the party fighting about who goes onto what court.”

Willingham said not everyone has a photo ID and some people don't want one, but they shouldn't be deprived of their right to vote.

For anyone unable to get a photo ID due to a reasonable impediment, the bill would allow voters to sign an affidavit and still cast a ballot. There would also be exceptions for religious purposes as well as anyone who was affected by a natural disaster within 60 days of the election. In instances where a person has his or her driver’s license suspended or revoked, the DMV would be required to send a special ID card automatically under the bill.

The bill is largely modeled on the South Carolina voter ID law, which was upheld by a panel of federal judges, but would allow even more forms of ID than the South Carolina law including tribal and student ID cards, Horner said.

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