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Wednesday, 20 June 2012 14:47

Voter ID laws should have bipartisan support

Written by 

To the Editor:

Election reform is needed in North Carolina. Nearly eight out of 10 North Carolina voters support Voter Photo ID legislation. Support for restoring confidence in government extends across racial demographics (whites, 81 percent; black, 64 percent; Hispanic, 79 percent).

The Tar Heel state has some of the most lax election laws in America. We are so trusting that, once registered, N.C. requires only that an individual state their name and address to receive a ballot. Voting is extended over a period of two and one half weeks before Election Day and we allow Same-Day Registration (enabling people to both register and vote on the same day.)

Do these lenient election laws attempt to discourage or encourage voter fraud? Are voters who they say they are? A Voter Photo ID law would help to alleviate voter deception and keep our elections honest.

Our neighbor to the south, Georgia, has developed a comprehensive program to improve the integrity and security of the election process. Their secretary of state, Brian Kemp, led the way in establishing Georgia as a national model for election security. He implemented Georgia’s Photo ID voting law that was passed in 2006.

On March 3, 2012, at a Civitas Leadership Conference in Raleigh, Kemp highlighted the increase in Georgia’s voter turnout since the implementation of the law. Dismissing the unfounded charges of potential racial discrimination, he stated that African-American turnout increased by 42 percent in the four years since the Photo ID voting law’s passage.

There have been legal challenges, but opponents of Photo ID law have failed to find even one individual who has been harmed due to the requirement. Common Cause filed a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s Photo ID law. Finding that the law imposed no undue burden on the right to vote, U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy dismissed the case in September 2007.

In January 2009, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Murphy’s decision, noting that, “The interest in detecting and deterring voter fraud is a valid neutral justification that this Court cannot ignore.” In addition, the Georgia Supreme Court, in March 2011, upheld the Photo ID law’s constitutionality in a challenge brought by the Democratic Party of Georgia.

In order to restore confidence in government and honest elections and to deter voter fraud, Voter Photo ID law should be passed here. This should not be a partisan issue.

Gail Chapman

Otto

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