The argument in favor of voters showing photo ID before they can cast a ballot is appealing, on first hearing. After all, who’s in favor of voter fraud? Granted, there’s little record of fraud committed at polling places, despite all those jokes about cemeteries emptying out on Election Day. If there’s a real problem, it’s with absentee ballots, which are much easier to cast illegally. But still, as technology advances and there’s far greater incidence of identity theft, the possibility of fraud is out there and pre-emptive measures may be wise.
And who doesn’t have a photo ID? Voter ID proponents ask that question often. After all, you need one to drive, to cash a check, to get on an airplane – to do practically anything in this post-9/11, security-conscious world. Voter ID advocates argue that most people are already equipped to identify themselves at the polls.
Until now, nobody’s tested that theory.
It turns out quite a few North Carolina registered voters may not have a photo ID. The State Board of Elections examined the everybody-has-one assumption last month. The board ran a computer analysis, comparing voter lists with Division of Motor Vehicles lists (the DMV issues licenses as well as photo IDs). The computer came up with a list of 613,000 voters – 9.25 percent of the state’s registered voters – who have no photo ID from the DMV.
A quarter of them are over the age of 65. And 53 percent are Democrats, giving at least a bit of credence to that party’s frequently voiced assertion that voter ID is really about depressing the Democratic vote. (Overall, 43 percent of the state’s registered voters are Democrats.)