NC lawmakers closer to changing voter ID laws

NC lawmakers closer to changing voter ID laws

RALEIGH, NC (AP/WECT) - The North Carolina General Assembly continued to debate proposed constitutional amendments Monday night, including a mandate that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls.

The House voted 74-44 to submit the amendment in the form of a referendum in November. The proposal must be given another affirmative House vote Tuesday before it moves to the Senate.

Dr. Aaron King, a Political Science Professor at UNCW, said the change would ultimately be up to North Carolina voters.

"In the past this voter ID law was struck down by federal courts," King said. "Now the strategy seems to be putting it up for a constitutional amendment, which would require three-fifths of both chambers of the state legislature to approve. Then the voters would have a decision to make in November."

GOP legislators contend voter fraud exists and putting the requirement in the constitution will build public confidence in elections.

Democrats say the fraud problems are minuscule and that photo ID will disproportionately prevent black residents who lack ID from voting.

King said politically it makes sense that the issue has resurfaced again.

"The debate is really about the prevalence of fraud or not," he said. "Really on both sides there is some evidence on both sides that hurt each other. There is mixed evidence that says voter fraud is actually a problem. There is also evidence that says impact of voter Id's might not be as strong as some people think."

King added that the debate should help spark some interest for the mid-term elections.

"The turnout in mid-term elections is generally lower," he said. "Certainly people that would support this constitutional amendment would be voted to turnout, but then again this could also motivate opponents of that to turn out as well. So much of politics and campaigning is about framing the debate. I think this will be a significant issue come the fall."

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