Forty years ago this month, North Carolina played a pivotal role in expanding voting rights for American citizens. On July 1, 1971, our General Assembly became the final state legislature needed to ratify the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.
A few days later, at a signing ceremony for the amendment, President Richard Nixon looked around the room of assembled young people and said, “America’s new voters, America’s young generation, will provide what America needs as we approach our 200th birthday – not just strength and not just wealth, but the Spirit of ’76, a spirit of moral courage, a spirit of high idealism in which we believe … that the American dream can never be fulfilled until every American has an equal chance to fulfill it in his own life.”
Thousands of miles away, 18-year-old Americans were fighting and dying in Vietnam. The cry of “old enough to fight, old enough to vote” had grown louder through the 1960s, and Congress finally proposed the 26th Amendment in March 1971. It sped through state legislatures, gaining the necessary ratification of three-fourth of the states with our General Assembly’s historic vote.
Later this month, the General Assembly will consider several bills with a far different purpose. They aim to restrict, rather than expand, opportunities for qualified voters.
… Despite scant evidence of voter impersonation, Republican leaders want an ID barrier that will disproportionately harm young adults, low-income voters, people of color, seniors who no longer drive and women who change their names. They’re ready to spend millions to make it happen – literally laying off teachers to enact a procedure that serves their partisan advantage. Even if only 2 percent of registered voters are harmed, that’s 120,000 people.
North Carolina has a voting system that is nationally recognized for balancing access with security. Any change must be evaluated in how it advances both goals and their proper balance.
Voting is not a privilege such as riding an airplane; it’s a fundamental right that is our identity as citizens. In the best of the Spirit of ’76, let us recognize that we all benefit when every American has an equal chance to participate in the dream.
Full Article: FayObserver.com – Hall: Voter ID requirement a step backward.