A bill requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls was endorsed Wednesday by a North Carolina House Committee. Republicans in the House Elections Committee overcame solid Democratic opposition to advance the bill, 23-11. The vote followed more than two hours of mostly unsuccessful amendments from Democrats who wanted to broaden the forms of acceptable ID and ease restrictions. Voter ID is a contentious issue nationally and on the state level. Republican lawmakers say it ensures election integrity but Democrats label it an attempt to suppress voter turnout in the name of a problem that lacks documented proof.
The first of three committee votes capped off a monthlong series of hearings to gather input from supporters and opponents. The bill heads to the Finance Committee on Thursday, followed by the Appropriations Committee and a full vote on the House floor next week.
It would require voters to present one of eight forms of state-issued ID or an ID from a public college, beginning in 2016. Voters who lack ID on Election Day could cast a provisional ballot, but it wouldn’t be counted unless they return to a local board of election with ID before results are reviewed. A failed amendment from Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake, would have allowed voters to mail in an affidavit signed under penalty of perjury instead of returning in person.
Under the latest version, registered voters who say they don’t have a copy of a birth certificate or marriage license could obtain a special ID free of charge. A previous version required a sworn statement of financial hardship enforced under penalty of perjury.