The Locker Room

Photo ID Requirements for Voting

Posted by Daren Bakst at 5:04 PM

Should North Carolina pass a law requiring voters to show photo IDs at the polls?
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The North Carolina GOP is apparently considering pushing legislation that would require photo IDs for voters.  I have no idea what the specifics of such a plan would be, but I'd expect (and recommend) that the legislation closely mirror the Indiana law that the United States Supreme Court already held to be constitutional (Crawford v. Marion County).

Here are some facts that opponents of such a plan seem to forget/ignore/not know about/lie about:

1) The idea of requiring photo IDs for voting isn't some wacky conservative idea.  Also, conservative jurists aren't the only ones who deem such a law as being constitutional:

Guess who wrote the Crawford opinion?  That's right, Justice Stevens, who was the most liberal justice on the court (or close to it).

Guess what former President has played an integral role in pushing photo IDs for voting?  That's right, President Jimmy Carter.  He led, along with James Baker, the 2005 bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, which pushed for photo IDs.  Both of them later encouraged the Supreme Court to uphold the Indiana law. 

2) The IDs are free.  So much for excessive cost.

3) If you have an ID and don't have it with you at the polls, you still can vote!  You can vote by casting a provisional ballot and then going to the courthouse within 10 days of the election and providing a photo ID.

4) What about the indigent and those who object, on religious grounds, about being photographed?  What happens to them when they go to the polls without an ID?  They also get to vote.  If an individual doesn't have a photo ID because of indigent status or religious objections to being photographed, then the individual may still cast a provisional ballot and then must go to the courthouse within 10 days of the election to sign an affidavit.

5) At this point, most opponents run from the "poll tax" argument and try to claim that it still isn't necessary because there's no voter fraud.

This is objectively not true as the Supreme Court discussed with various examples.  The Court even explains how Indiana reportedly had thousands of registered voters who "had either moved, died, or were not eligible to vote because they had been convicted of felonies."

Further, there's no way to have a good sense of how rampant voter fraud is when states aren't properly looking for fraud in the first place. There are many ways fraud can and certainly does exist. For example, it's very easy to register to vote under fake names.

It is about time that North Carolina passes this common sense requirement.

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