Debate over legislation requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot has been passionate, with the House Republican majority prevailing on the bill.
But experts like Gibbs Knotts, a political science professor at Western Carolina University, question whether the law’s impact will match the rhetoric’s heat.
The GOP contends the measure is needed to root out voter fraud and keep elections honest, while Democrats maintain it’s a politically motivated scheme to disenfranchise voters who traditionally vote Democratic.
“I think the evidence from people who have studied this is that maybe both sides exaggerate the effect,” Knotts said.
Studies tend to show that requiring a photo identification doesn’t generally keep many people away from the polls. And there really isn’t all that much fraud to be stopped, he said.
“The perception of voter fraud is much higher than the actual occurrence of voter fraud,” Knotts said. “I don’t think it’s going to fundamentally change who votes and who’s elected.”
The Restore Confidence in Government bill passed the House on Thursday 66-48. The party-line vote, however, appears to keep Republicans a few votes short of overcoming any veto by Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue.