There are important questions to be resolved before the legislature votes to put voter photo identification in the state Constitution via referendum. The ballot question says, “Every person offering to vote in person shall present photo identification before voting in the manner prescribed by law.” This language appears to not allow exceptions for those without ID or those who have lost them, as the 2013 law did. Will it be a “hard ID” like that struck down in federal court, or a “soft ID” like the 2013 House version that allowed student ID, public assistance ID or employer ID? Will there be a tedious provisional ballot process?
The referendum voter won’t know the actual proposal. Senate staffer Brent Woodcox tweeted, “Very few would read the details of the bill to make their decision on the amendment. Unless it passes, there will be no need for implementing language.” How cynical. Is the amendment just a blank check, as well as a sound bite to trap candidates? Is the actual reason to amend the constitution to end review on state constitutional grounds? Republicans control the legislature; the N.C. Supreme Court is now 4-3 Democratic and will remain Democratic next year.
What justification have proponents offered, other than voter confidence would be improved? Gov. Pat McCrory in signing the 2013 bill said it was common sense because you “need a photo ID to fly.” This is untrue; the Transportation Security Administration has many published workarounds for fliers with no photo ID. Other misconceptions: “The law requires photo ID to buy beer, wine and cigarettes.” Not true. There is no law requiring this, but if merchants gets photo ID they have a safe harbor if it’s phony.