House Republicans announced plans to Tuesday to begin moving the politically divisive voter photo ID bill through the legislature, saying they would slow walk it to give all parties the opportunity to comment on it.
GOP lawmakers, who have enough votes to pass the measure, disclosed a schedule that will begin with a public hearing on March 12th followed by two House committee meetings in which expert testimony will be heard. The bill will likely be introduced in late March and voted on by the House in mid-April.
“We are going to go through a very deliberative, response-ful and interactive approach through public hearings so that we arrive at a policy that is fair and that takes into account legitimate reasons why voters may not have an ID and puts into effect a solution a way in which those Ids can be issued,” Tillis said at a news conference attended by about 30 GOP House members.
Tillis said the measure – which would require voters to produce a photo identification such as a driver's license when they go to the polls – had the support of nearly three-fourths of Tar Heel voters, according to polls.
Rep. David Lewis, the chairman of the House elections committee, said the Republican lawmakers won election in November on the platform of enacting a photo ID bill
“We believe the integrity of the election system itself is important,” said Lewis, who is a member of the Republican National Committee. “We are doing this so that every North Carolinian, every citizen who is entitled to vote, has the opportunity to do so and that that vote counts.''
But state Democratic chairman Randy Voller, who is the mayor of Pittsboro, called the bill “the specter of Jim Crow.''
“Most folks don't understand what voter ID means,” Voller said at a news conference Monday at state Democratic headquarters. “Voter ID equals voter disenfranchisement. It's as plain as that.''
Critics of the legislation, say requirements for voter ID laws disproportionately effects minorities and the elderly.
The Republican-led legislature passed a voter ID bill in 2011, but it was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue. But Republican Gov. Pat McCrory campaigned in favor of a voter ID law, and is expected to sign a new bill into law.