North Carolina: House leader defends voter ID changes | News & Observer

Responding to criticism that legislators sharply weakened the state’s voter ID law last week, House Rules Chairman David Lewis posted a 1,000-word “open letter” Monday defending the changes. The House and Senate quickly approved the changes last week; the legislation is now on Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk awaiting action. It would set up a process for voters to use a “reasonable impediment declaration” outlining why they couldn’t provide a photo ID at the polls. Voters could claim one of eight reasons, including a lack of transportation, disability or illness, lost or stolen photo ID, or a lack of a birth certificate or other documents to obtain a photo ID. Voters using the form would provide their date of birth or the last four digits of their Social Security number, or show a voter registration card to prove their identity.

North Carolina: In-person vote without photo ID OK’d by North Carolina lawmakers | Associated Press

Legislation dropped quickly on the General Assembly by Republican leaders and approved Thursday would allow some North Carolina residents to legally vote in person without photo identification as will be required in 2016. The House and Senate separately voted by wide margins for the elections legislation, which would ease the mandate in a 2013 law that anyone showing up to vote at an early-voting center or Election Day precinct show one of eight qualifying photo IDs. Driver’s licenses, military IDs and U.S. passports meet the standard. This and other provisions in the 2013 law are being challenged in federal and state courts, with the first trial scheduled next month. Meanwhile, state election officials still are preparing to carry out the photo ID requirement.

North Carolina: Lawmakers try to quash subpoenas that seek details about voter ID law | Charlotte Observer

North Carolina legislative leaders who led the crafting of the state’s new voter ID law have been very open about their support of the measure and other elections changes. But voters and organizations challenging the wide-ranging amendments contend that those same lawmakers are being far too private about email and other correspondence they exchanged while transforming the state’s voting process. Critics of the voting-law changes say that its Republican sponsors had information that the legislation would have a negative impact on African-Americans and other minorities. In federal court filings this month, the NAACP, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, the American Civil Liberties Union, the U.S. Justice Department and others who are suing the governor, state legislators and North Carolina election board members sought a court order for email and other correspondence. Thirteen legislators, all Republicans, asked the court to quash subpoenas requiring them to produce any documents they created or received concerning the “rationale, purpose and implementation” of House Bill 589.

New York: Fraud cases center on absentee ballots | Newsday

Absentee ballots often generate intrigue, suspicion and allegations across party lines. It is easy to see why. “Other ballots are filed at the polling place — where presumably people keep an eye on what goes on,” explained a New York elections expert. “Absentee ballots go wherever they go and then come back with somebody delivering them.” How they’re handled, and by whom, opens chances for irregularities. Last week, Frances Knapp, the Dutchess County election board’s Democratic commissioner, was accused on 94 criminal counts of misconduct and false-instrument filing. Under the law, an absentee voter may designate an agent to handle his or her ballot. Two years ago, says the indictment announced by Dutchess District Attorney William Grady, Knapp permitted the names of such designated agents “to be fraudulently changed” in the county’s computer system.

North Carolina: Elections bill headed to McCrory | Charlotte Observer

The legislature on Thursday passed a package of strict voting measures that may invite a federal lawsuit. The bill’s supporters said the measure will restore the integrity of elections and can withstand any challenge under federal law or the state constitution. But critics say the legislation is ripe for a legal challenge. The Senate gave the bill final approval with a 33-14 vote. The House followed, sending the bill to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature with a 73-41 vote. As the House tally was read, Democrats stood, held hands and bowed their heads. The bill was much more expansive than the relatively straight-forward voter ID legislation the House approved in April that allowed students at state universities to use their school identification cards. The Senate changed the House ID provisions and added many more rules that Democrats said would discourage minority, student and elderly voters. “This is about a fear to lose power,” said Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley, a Raleigh Democrat. “The Senate is afraid.”

North Carolina: Voter ID one step closer to become state law | Smithfield Herald

The state House last Wednesday passed a bill requiring voters to show a photo ID when they go to the polls in 2016.
House Republicans pushed through the measure, saying the public demanded more stringent ballot security at polling places – that voter fraud was more prevalent than thought and that in a modern, mobile society, fewer election officials personally know voters. “Our system of government depends upon open and honest elections,” said Rep. David Lewis, a farm-equipment dealer from Dunn and a Republican. “Having people prove who they say they are as a condition of voting makes sense and guarantees that each vote is weighted equally and cumulatively determines the outcome of elections.”

North Carolina: Legislators reactions mixed to voter ID bill | Fay Observer

Like so much other legislation this year, a contentious bill that would require voters to provide photo identification passed the state House last week along party lines. Republicans, who control both chambers of the General Assembly, argue that the voter ID bill will reduce fraud. Democrats counter that their real motivation is to restrict voter access to racial minorities and to the poor. Republican state Rep. David Lewis of Dunn, chairman of the state House Elections Committee, shepherded the bill through the House.

North Carolina: Voter ID one step closer to become state law | Charlotte Observer

The state House passed a bill Wednesday requiring voters to show a photo ID when they go to the polls in 2016, after an emotionally charged debate that underscored North Carolina’s political polarization. House Republicans pushed through the measure saying that the public demanded more stringent ballot security at polling places, that voter fraud was more prevalent than is understood, and that in a modern, mobile society fewer election officials personally knew voters.

North Carolina: Voter ID one step closer to become state law | News Observer

The state House passed a bill Wednesday requiring voters to show a photo ID when they go to the polls in 2016, after an emotionally charged debate that underscored North Carolina’s political polarization. House Republicans pushed through the measure saying that the public demanded more stringent ballot security at polling places, that voter fraud was more prevalent than is understood, and that in a modern, mobile society fewer election officials personally knew voters.

Editorials: North Carolina Voter ID law threatens rights of most vulnerable | Roanoke News-Herald

North Carolina lawmakers continue to consider legislation that would require some type of voter ID when citizens go to the polls. This week the House Elections Committee will hold more panel discussions on the issue. If an ID requirement were put in place, citizens such as Rocky Reese would be unable to vote. Homeless for 15 years, he is currently unable to secure the proper documents to get an ID. “Being out on the streets, you’re not thinking about your ID,” Reese declared. “You’re thinking about survival. You’re thinking about where am I going to eat next. If you have never been there, you don’t know. You don’t feel accepted.” Reese voted in last November’s election.

North Carolina: GOP-led General Assembly plans to pass law requiring voters to show ID | FayObserver

The General Assembly will move gingerly but deliberately to pass a law this year requiring voters to show IDs at polls, said state Rep. David Lewis, chairman of the House election law committee. Republicans have sought a voter ID law for years, saying it’s needed to prevent election fraud. State Sen. Wesley Meredith of Fayetteville supports the idea and expects such a bill to be one of the first pieces of legislation he will sponsor when the General Assembly reconvenes Jan. 30.

North Carolina: Attempt to revive voting funds killed with little used motion |

House Republicans headed off a potentially lengthy debate over whether to set aside more money for this year’s elections with a little-used parliamentary procedure Wednesday. Both the House and Senate had set aside $664,000 in their individual budgets to trigger the release of $4.1 million in federal Help America Vote Act — or HAVA — funds. Together, that extra $4.7 million would have gone toward maintaining voting machines, training poll workers and opening more early-voting sites. But when the final compromise version of the $20.2 billion budget emerged, that money was gone, sparking protests from good government advocates. That budget has passed and is currently sitting on Gov. Bev Perdue’s desk.  Typically, after every budget, there is a technical corrections bill that cleans up mistakes, adds in last-minute changes and otherwise tweaks the spending plan. That bill is S 187 this year and was on the House floor today.

North Carolina: New voter ID bill unlikely |

Lawmakers start their last week of work for the legislative session tonight. As legislators look to wrap up unfinished business, a key House leader says its unlikely that a new voter ID bill will be forthcoming this year. “It’s gone,” said Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, who chairs the committee which oversees election laws and would have been the point person to shepherd a new voter ID bill through the House. Under current law, most voters do not have to show ID when they come to the polls. Under a version of voter ID bill that Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat, vetoed last year, most voter would have to provide photo identification before casting a ballot. Proponents of the measure say voter ID would help make sure people don’t vote in the name of others or cast ballots when they’re not qualified to do so. Opponents say there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud and ID laws would disproportionately keep poor, elderly and college-age voters from casting ballots.

Voting Blogs: Dollars and Sense: Election Policy Decisions Cost New York City, North Carolina Big Bucks | Election Academy

I talk a lot about election costs on this blog … and when I do, I’m usually discussing how states and localities are finding ways to spend less on elections in order to make their budgets work. Recently, however, we’ve seen two stories that involve funding challenges for election offices, both involving a a twist that has an impact on election administrators’ bottom lines. One story is already familiar if you’ve been following this blog. Last week, New York City’s Independent Budget Office (IBO) released a report estimating the cost of a Citywide election in 2012 at approximately $23 million per election. As the report notes, that figure is particularly significant because it represents the extra funds required for a fourth election made necessary by the legislature’s failure to harmonize the election calendar in the wake of a federal court order.

North Carolina: Budget stripped of funding needed to receive federal election money |

Absent from the budget approved Wednesday by legislators is a previously included $664,000 appropriation that would have automatically released around $4 million of federal funds to maintain and improve the state’s election system. Allocating the funds would have kept the state in compliance with guidelines set under the Help America Vote Act, passed in 2002 as a reaction to controversy in the 2000 presidential election that brought phrases like “dimpled chad” into the country’s lexicon. Under the act, states must contribute money to take advantage of federal cash set aside to maintain and improve voting systems. Previous versions of the House and Senate budgets included the funding, but cost-saving efforts won out at the last minute.

North Carolina: House seeks to soften voter ID bill as Tillis addresses concerns about GOP agenda |

Republican lawmakers are renewing a push for a compromise measure that would require voters to show identification at the polls, conceding that voiding a veto of a tougher bill is unlikely. House Speaker Thom Tillis said he is intent on overriding more of Gov. Bev Perdue’s vetoes before adjourning at the end of the month. But he recently acknowledged the one hill too big to climb may be the voter ID legislation vetoed by Perdue that would require voters to show a driver’s license at the polls. A veto override requires a three-fifths majority, meaning a handful of Democrats would need to side with the Republican majority. The compromise measure being negotiated would allow voters to show a broad range of documents to prove identity, including bank statements, utility bills or any government documents with name and address. Voters without such documents would be required to show that their signature matched their voter registration form.

North Carolina: Voter ID bill vetoed by Perdue, challenges continue | The Pendulum

Recent cases of voter fraud that have come to light in North Carolina have rekindled the fight to overturn Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of a voter identification bill proposed in the spring.

The bill, proposed by Reps. Ric Killian, David Lewis and Tim Moore, would have required all voters to present photo identification at the polls and was vetoed by Perdue over the summer on the grounds it would have prevented open access to voting. “I was happy she vetoed it,” said George Taylor, professor of political science at Elon University. “I don’t see a need for it. It’s just another way to keep people from voting.”

North Carolina: GOP seeks sweeping election law rewrite |

Just days from the end of session, House Republican leaders have unveiled a massive rewrite of the state’s election laws. Senate Bill 47, introduced with little notice in House Elections this afternoon, would repeal same-day registration in North Carolina, ban straight-ticket voting, shorten the early-voting period by a week, and ban early voting on Sundays (popular with churches for “Souls to the Polls” voting drives).

It would also repeal publicly-financed elections for the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Insurance Commissioner and Treasurer.

The measure also makes changes to campaign finance, creating a new type of account at political parties – a “headquarters” account – that could accept corporate money for operational support, though not for electioneering purposes.

North Carolina: House’s final decision on North Carolina voter ID bill could come Thursday | Sun Journal

Just a few moments before the stroke of midnight Wednesday, the state House gave its tentative approval to a bill requiring North Carolina voters to produce a government-approved photo ID to cast their ballots.

The Republican majority limited debate on the bill, entitled “Restore Confidence in Government,” to a brief explanation by bill sponsor Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, and short comments by Minority Leader Joe Hackney, D-Orange, and Majority Leader Paul “Skip” Stam, R-Wake.

A final vote on the bill could come on Thursday. House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, said that House members would be allowed to debate the bill fully at that time.