The North Carolina voter identification controversy has manifested itself in a partisan battle characteristic of this intense election cycle. A recent article in the Old Gold & Black asserts that voting legislation passed in North Carolina has burdened or restricted large numbers of voters.
The author appeals to the emotion and passion of his readers by discussing John Lewis, climate change, and discrimination, yet the author does not use any evidence to support his argument that voting rights have been denied to people because of changes in legislation. Moreover, there are no facts to support the widespread opinion that voting has been suppressed by new voter ID laws in North Carolina.
Despite claims that new voter ID laws would restrict people from voting, more voters turned out in the 2016 primary election than the 2012 primary election. According to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, the 2016 presidential primaries experienced a turnout of 35.69 percent of voters, a one percent increase (about 100,000 people) from 34.66 percent of voters in the 2012 presidential primaries. Voter turnout actually increased from 2012 to 2016 despite claims that people across the state would be negatively impacted by legislation designed to protect our voting rights.
Governor McCrory has been chastised for pushing voter ID legislation on the grounds that the new laws specifically target minorities, students, and other liberal groups in hopes of creating a larger number of Republican voters. Yet, Chris Kromm from the Institute of Southern Studies shows that the number of Democrats and Republicans who voted in the North Carolina primaries is only about 10,000 voters apart.
I was able to experience the primary elections in North Carolina firsthand as a poll monitor. Thus, I could see the effects of the voter ID laws in action. During my shift at a polling location in Forsyth County nobody encountered an issue while voting. In fact, several voters of varying backgrounds remarked that the “common sense” voting reforms were a positive change to further fair elections and voting rights.
During my shift at a polling location in Forsyth County nobody encountered an issue while voting. In fact, several voters of varying backgrounds remarked that the “common sense” voting reforms were a positive change to further fair elections and voting rights.
Reaffirming a similar belief, McCrory says, “Photo IDs are required to purchase Sudafed, cash a check, board an airplane or enter a federal courtroom. Yet, three Democratic judges are undermining the integrity of our elections while also maligning our state. We will immediately appeal and also review other potential options.”
Other Republicans have expressed disappointment in the fact that voting isn’t as strongly protected as simple day-to-day activities. North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore issued a joint statement about the “politically-motivated decision” which said, “Since today’s decision by three partisan Democrats ignores legal precedent, ignores the fact that other federal courts have used North Carolina’s law as a model, and ignores the fact that a majority of other states have similar protections in place, we can only wonder if the intent is to reopen the door for voter fraud, potentially allowing fellow Democrat politicians like Hillary Clinton and Roy Cooper to steal the election.”
The voter identification issue is certainly split down party lines, as evidenced by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch who said that overturning the law, “sent a message that contradicted some of the most basic principles of our democracy. The ability of Americans to have a voice in the direction of their country — to have a fair and free opportunity to help write the story of this nation — is fundamental to who we are and who we aspire to be.”
Evidently, there are many sides to the issue of voter identification at the polls, especially in such a heated election. Governor McCrory has signed voter ID legislation into law in an effort to protect against voter fraud and defend the American right to vote. The laws have coincided with an increase in voter turnout, uninhibited by the laws that supposedly restricted access to the vote. Even with a shorter voting period and tighter legislation, about 100,000 more people turned out to vote in the most recent presidential primary in North Carolina.