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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The slow, painful road to voter ID

Posted by on Wed, Mar 13, 2013 at 8:59 AM

Let the perfunctory public hearings begin.

On Tuesday, lawmakers in Raleigh listened to more than 100 speakers debate the pros and cons of a law that would require North Carolinians to produce a photo ID on Election Day.

Detractors say that requiring an ID to vote will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of low-income, minority and elderly voters. But supporters of the measure say that producing an identification card is commonplace in today’s society and should be required at the polls.

Some have even suggested that voter fraud is a widespread problem, but little evidence has directly backed up that claim.

WRAL has a good round up of the comments made at the hearing.

But it’s unlikely that all the familiar arguments rolled out during yesterday’s 4-hour public hearing will have an impact. A voter ID bill has been inevitable since Republicans gained control of the legislature and the governor’s mansion last November.

GOP lawmakers passed a voter ID bill in 2011 but it was vetoed by then-Governor Bev Perdue.

It’s unclear exactly what the new bill will look like, but it will likely emerge by the end of the month.

Next on tap are two House committee meetings—the first of which will be held today at 1 p.m.—featuring expert testimony.

The public hearing and committee meetings help Republicans create the appearance of what they call a “slow and deliberate” process.

And while it’s unlikely the public hearing and expert testimony will serve no higher purpose than allowing the community to vent, sources close to the issue suggest GOP lawmakers are indeed being very deliberate in attempting to ensure the final legislation will not be struck down by a higher court.

They went to similar pains during the redistricting process in 2011.

As testament to their shrewd lawmaking, top Republicans have indicated that a state-issued ID will likely be provided free-of-charge as part of the new legislation. Requiring people to pay for the ID would likely be fodder for a legal challenge.

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