Posts Tagged ‘Voter ID’

BURLINGTON, N.C. – A new North Carolina bill that will require people to provide acceptable forms of government-issued forms of identification to vote is raising concerns across the state, especially for students.

House Bill 589, passed Aug. 12, will require voters to show picture IDs like driver’s licenses, passports and tribal cards starting in the next major election – the 2016 presidential race. Student IDs will not be accepted.

Lawyer Press Millen, Partner of Womble Carlyle Sandridge and Rice, said this sort of law could limit the number of students that vote in the next election. He is currently filing suit against the state.

“There are only seven forms of ID that are accepted to vote,” Millen said, “and a student ID from a private or public university doesn’t work.”

Gabriela Alvarez, an out of state freshman from Virginia said that she didn’t know about the new law and wanted to vote in the next election. Because she does not have a North Carolina license, she said she probably won’t – it would be easier to register absentee for Virginia.

But Alvarez still thinks the student vote is valuable.

“We’re still citizens,” she said. “It’s our right to vote. It’s part of our civic responsibility.”

But Carolynn Whitley, program assistant of political science, religious studies and philosophy at Elon University in North Carolina, says that the law is OK with her, but with one condition.

“As long as North Carolina makes it possible for people without the proper ID to get it,” Whitley said, “then I am for the bill.”

North Carolina will provide free IDs through the state’s Department of Motor Vehicle offices, but it will be a large task as an estimated 318,000 voters are not registered to properly vote.

Twitter has been active in the few days since the bill was announced via YouTube. Several people have come out against the legislation, including big North Carolina schools Duke University and the University of North Carolina.

A representation of the number of alleged voter fraud cases in North Carolina

A representation of the number of alleged voter fraud cases in North Carolina

But it’s not just universities and students that are unhappy with the bill. Some, like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, argue that the voter fraud the bill is meant to protect against is so minimal that it doesn’t even have an impact.

According to the data collected by WNCN of Raleigh from the State Board of Elections, in 2012, of the almost 7 million votes cast, only less than 150 alleged cases of voter fraud were reported.

Nationally, the number of actual cases of proven voter fraud is also low. According to a News21 analysis of a sample of just over 2000 cases of reported voter fraud, only 10 cases of in-person voter fraud within the past 13 years.

But supporters of the bill ask what the harm in requiring photo IDs is.

Regardless, the new laws are indeed stricter and reduce the early voting period by a week, eliminate same-day registration, end pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds and other things.

The United States’ Department of Justice has already looked into similar bills in Texas and Florida, but North Carolina could be the next step in a long battle with U.S. voting laws that have sometimes disenfranchised minorities, and now in North Carolina, have the possibility to do the same to students.

To read an interactive timeline of highlights of the voter changes, visit this storify link.


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