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Morning Memo: New analysis shows voter ID may impact nearly 1 in 10 voters

VOTER ID BILL COULD AFFECT 613,000 N.C. VOTERS. A Dome Morning Memo exclusive: A new report from the State Board of Elections found as many as 613,000 voters, or 9.25 percent of the North Carolina's voters, may not have a state issued driver's licensed or identification card -- raising the stakes ahead of Republican efforts to push for voter ID legislation in the upcoming session.

The new analysis, which compared Division of Motor Vehicles records to state voter lists, discovered that 53 percent of the voters in question are Democrats and a quarter are over age 65. A disproportionate share -- about 30 percent -- are black.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. This is a daily tipsheet for N.C. politics that breaks news, offers analysis that drives the agenda and digests the latest political news. It's a new product so send send tips, ideas, thoughts or even a better name to dome@newsobserver.com. And thanks for reading. Click link below for more.***

GOP: Attack on Merritt unfair

The N.C. GOP has joined the fray over State Auditor Les Merritt's public service announcements that tell people to report fraud, waste and abuse of state resources to his office's hotline.

State Republican leaders dismissed their Democratic counterparts' claims that the ads promote Merritt's campaign, reports Dan Kane.

Merritt does not appear in the two TV ads, which began running this week. But state Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Meek said the auditor is promoting his re-election by using the phrase "The Taxpayers' Watchdog." That's how Merritt has referred to himself on the campaign trail.

Chris McClure, the NCGOP's chief of staff, notes that Meek, in an unrelated news release, used that same phrase to identify Merritt's predecessor, Ralph Campbell.

"I am honored that Ralph Campbell has agreed to serve as Treasurer of the North Carolina Democratic Party," Meek said in the release. "As State Auditor, Ralph Campbell served as the taxpayers' watchdog and developed a reputation for his fairness, accountability and integrity."

McClure said Meek's actions this week amount to "rank hypocrisy."

"To call Jerry Meek's attacks on Les Merritt duplicitous would be too kind," McClure said in a news release. "Meek is still chewing sour grapes because Les Merritt won election to the State Auditor's office three years ago."

He also noted that lawmakers passed a law preventing public officials from appearing in public service announcements after complaints regarding appearances by Gov. Mike Easley, Attorney General Roy Cooper and State Treasurer Richard Moore, all Democrats.

GOP hires chief of staff

The N.C. Republican Party has hired a new chief of staff.

Chris McClure, who started Monday, previously served as finance director of U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry's campaign and executive director of the state party's Victory 2006 program.

A native of Clyde, McClure graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a bachelor of arts in political science in 2002. He served as political director for Bill Cobey's 2004 campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination and Joe Knott's 2004 campaign for attorney general.

He has also worked as the coordinator of communications and government relations for the N.C. Technology Association, a high-tech trade association.

"I am excited to be joining the N.C. GOP team at this important time in the life of our party and our state," he said in a statement.

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