On Thursday, North Carolina legislators attracted national media attention when they passed a revised voter ID bill that will place sweeping new restraints on when, where, and how we vote. Trust me; you will be affected. Here’s how:
- The early voting period will be shortened by a week, from 17 days to 10. Same-day registration during the early voting period will be eliminated.
- Straight-party ticket voting will be eliminated.
- Sixteen and seventeen year olds will no longer be able to pre-register to vote.
- College and forms of government ID will no longer be acceptable forms of identification to vote.
- Out of precinct voting will no longer be allowed.
- Counties will no longer be able to extend voting hours due to long lines or other extraordinary circumstances.
- Political party chairpersons will be allowed to appoint up to 12 poll “observers” to monitor the polling places and to ferret out voter fraud.
- New restrictions make it much more difficult to set up satellite polling stations, which will make it more difficult for elderly and disabled North Carolinians to vote.
These restrictions, cited by one election-law expert as the “the worst anti-voter laws” in decades, beg the question: what the heck?! Why? The short, supposed answer is voter fraud. State Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger applauds the new restrictions, stating, “The important thing is enhancing confidence in elections. This is […] about making sure that when people show up to vote, they are who they say they are.”
Great– except none of the new measures will solve voter fraud because voter fraud hardly exists. Out of 7 million ballots cast in 2012, voter fraud occurred at a rate of 0.00174 percent. Instead, the new measures will make voting more difficult for the 319,000 North Carolinians who lack an acceptable form of photo ID , a disproportionate number of whom are black or poor. Eliminating same-day registration during early voting — two provisions that have been popular among liberal-leaning voters — will likely eliminate 4,766 votes in Durham County alone. So much for enhancing my confidence in elections…