Commentary: New voter ID amendment will only hurt eligible voters

Commentary: New voter ID amendment will only hurt eligible voters
June 14
03:33 2018

By Tom Lopez

Leaders in the N.C. General Assembly announced today that they will introduce a constitutional amendment requiring voter identification to cast a ballot in North Carolina. If passed, the proposal would be placed on the November 2018 general election ballot.

In response, Democracy North Carolina released the following statement that the nonpartisan voting rights organization would “adamantly oppose” any efforts to add voting restrictions to the state’s constitution.

Voters’ ability to access the ballot is at the heart of a fair election system. This effort, like past voter ID laws here and around the country, would compromise that access and disenfranchise eligible voters. North Carolinians have been harmed by lawmakers who drew illegal, racially-gerrymandered voting districts and passed an illegal voter suppression law that targeted African-Americans ‘with almost surgical precision.’

Democracy North Carolina will adamantly oppose any effort to permanently add these voting restrictions to our state’s constitution.

In August 2013, N.C. lawmakers enacted House Bill 589, deemed the worst voter suppression law in the country. Dubbed the “Monster Voting Law,” HB 589 was a strict voter ID law requiring certain identification to vote shown to be less frequently held by voters of color, and excluding identification disproportionately held by African-Americans.

The law also shortened the state’s popular early voting period by a full week, eliminated same-day registration, prevented out-of-precinct ballots from being counted, and ended a successful pre-registration program for 16- and 17-year olds. All provisions were shown to disproportionately impact voters of color, students, low-income voters, the elderly, people with disabilities, and rural residents.

In July 2016, U.S. Court of Appeals struck down the Monster Law violating Constitutional and statutory bans on intentional discrimination, and specifically noted that it “targeted African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”

In May 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to revisit the case. Despite findings that HB 589 harmed voters, since 2017 legislative leaders had threatened to revive the voter ID and other provisions.

Democracy NC is encouraging voters to contact their legislators now to oppose this bill.

Tomas Lopez is executive director of Democracy North Carolina. Democracy North Carolina is a statewide nonpartisan organization that uses research, organizing, and advocacy to increase civic participation, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and remove systemic barriers to voting and serving in elected office. See this response at

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