North Carolina House Republicans said Thursday their proposal to require voters to show photo identification to cast ballots would be phased in over three years and takes into account the apprehensions of older adults, the disabled and the poor. GOP legislators, holding a news conference to unveil details of a bill introduced later in the day, said the legislation’s details reflected in part what they heard at a public hearing last month and from advocacy groups. But even as the overwhelming number of speakers at the hearing opposed photo ID, and civil rights groups vow to fight any such requirement in court, House Speaker Thom Tillis said his chamber would move ahead with the measure. The House Elections Committee will hold a public hearing on the bill next week, and it could pass the House by April 23, according to one of Tillis’ top lieutenants. “Make no mistake about it — the core principles that went into filling this bill are ones that we’re staying close to,” said Tillis, R-Mecklenburg. “We will respectfully address the concerns of groups on either end of the spectrum, but we’re going to keep this tight and we’re going to live up to what we said.”
Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue vetoed a photo ID requirement in 2011. But Republicans now have veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate, and GOP Gov. Pat McCrory supports photo ID.
Republican legislators have cited polls supporting voter ID and worries from constituents about potential fraud. But Democrats and others argue photo ID is an unconstitutional obstacle to voting that attempts to address a problem that doesn’t exist in North Carolina.
The “legislation remains what it has always been — part of a larger cynical and partisan effort by the Republican Party to pick and choose who can vote that is driven by their selfish desire for political gain,” House Minority Leader Larry Hall, D-Durham, said in a news release.