A Wisconsin political science professor told a federal judge Monday that if North Carolina legislators were worried about voter fraud, he thought they would have focused more attention on the process for casting absentee ballots. Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican-led legislature that shepherded the state’s new voter ID requirement into law have touted the measure as one necessary to prevent voter fraud and preserve the integrity of elections. Barry Burden, from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, testified as a witness for voters and organizations challenging the voter ID law. His research focuses on election administration, voting behavior and civic engagement. The director of the Wisconsin university’s newly created Elections Research Center, offered his opinions on the first day of a federal trial about whether it is lawful to require N.C. voters to present photo identification to cast a ballot in local, state and national elections.
Burden, on the stand for about two hours on the first day of a trial expected to last through the week, said he thought the elections law overhaul in 2013 and amended in 2015 would place a greater burden on black and Latino voters than whites and would do little to prevent fraud. “If the rationale were to prevent voter fraud,” Burden said, “it would focus on absentee ballots. …The consensus is fraud is more common among mail ballots.”
The cost of obtaining one of the six approved IDs in North Carolina, as well as the efforts that some would have to go through to get one, could also dissuade would-be voters from following through with all the steps.