North Carolina Republicans did a startling and uncharacteristic thing last week: In the face of a potentially unfavorable legal outcome, they gutted a bad provision in a bad law. No, it wasn’t the state’s abortion ultrasound law, which finally died last week when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take it up. It also wasn’t the state’s same-sex marriage amendment, which is likely to be gone for good in the next week when those same justices decide on the issue for all states. It was another, very significant law: North Carolina’s Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA), which would have required voters to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot beginning in 2016.
Instead, lawmakers have overwhelmingly passed House Bill 836, which allows for voters to claim that one of eight “impediments” stopped them from getting a photo ID, including lack of transportation, disability or illness and lack of a birth certificate. Voters then can cast a provisional ballot after providing the last four digits of their Social Security number or some other form of identification such as a utility bill or bank statement.
Nothing in the bill suggests the state will demand proof of the “impediment” unless you are clearly flouting or “denigrating” the photo requirement. So if you don’t have a photo ID, all you have to say is “I don’t have my birth certificate” and that would be enough.
In short, Voter ID is basically dead.