New data from the State Board of Elections show far fewer voters lack photo identification than critics of a voter ID bill suggest. The new information roughly halves the potential number of registered voters without photo ID from the 612,000 in a January report to about 318,000. The detailed figures were provided Tuesday to The Associated Press by North Carolina House Republicans and later confirmed in a draft report from the State Board of Elections. The voter ID bill comes up for debate in the state House this week.
Ray Starling, general counsel for Speaker Thom Tillis, argues the number is likely even less because about 115,000 of those identified in the latest analysis have not voted in the last five elections.
“We feel pretty confident that if you didn’t vote in the last five elections, you’re not going to,” he said.
That conclusion was supported by Board of Elections Director Gary Bartlett, who said he expects to release a written report Wednesday.
“There are a very minimal number of voters who just have not voted that resurface” to cast votes for special issues or candidates, he said.
Legislation that would require voters to present one of eight state-issued forms of ID at the polls has drawn fierce criticism from civil rights groups and others who argue such laws are Republican efforts to suppress turnout among Democratic-leaning groups. A 2011 attempt to pass voter ID legislation failed, but Republicans now hold veto-proof majorities in the General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory supports their efforts.