Under the Dome

John Hood: Voter ID a done deal next year

John Hood of the Locke Foundation writes, in his blog "Daily Journal," that a voter ID is not only a done deal when the legislature returns next year, but it shouldn't even be controversial.

"One of the first bills the North Carolina General Assembly will enact next year, and that new Gov. Pat McCrory will sign, will establish a photo ID requirement to vote in North Carolina. It will pass quickly because it is uncontroversial.

Yes, I know that left-wing activists and the news media consider voter ID laws to be controversial. But the public doesn’t agree. Clear majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and unaffiliated respondents have consistently supported such identification requirements in public opinion polls. Back in August, for example, three-quarters of Americans said they favored a policy that “required to show official, government-issued photo identification – such as a driver’s license – when they cast ballots.”

Few public policies enjoy such broad support. Popularity doesn’t make something true or wise, of course. But if something is overwhelmingly popular, it is odd to label it controversial, at least in a political sense.

Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court has recently ruled that photo ID requirements do not violate equal protection or other constitutional provisions, as long as those who lack driver’s licenses are provided an alternative means of obtaining the necessary identification at public expense. The election-eve legal challenges to ID laws in several states succeeded only when plaintiffs argued that there wasn’t enough time to implement them properly before balloting – a problem that won’t affect policies adopted more than a year before the next general election.

My own view is that a photo ID requirement, if administered properly, is a reasonable safeguard against the unlikely – but not unprecedented – event that certain kinds of voter fraud might tip the outcome of an election. To the extent that either proponents or opponents of voter ID predict it will have large-scale effects on voting, however, they are making unwarranted claims. There appears to be no empirical basis for them.

Keep in mind that while North Carolina has no requirement, many other states and countries do. Scholars have studied their effects on voting. Most have found nothing of consequence. In March 2011, for example, State Politics & Policy Quarterly published a study by Oakland University political scientists Roger Larocca and John Klemanski that examined several different election-law changes, including voter ID, same-day voter registration, no-excuse absentee voting and early voting.

Using data from the 2000, 2004, and 2008 presidential elections, they found that same-day registration and no-excuse absentee balloting resulted in higher voter turnout, all other things being held equal. Early voting actually resulted in lower turnout, for reasons best explained and analyzed another day (I find them at least plausible). As for voter ID, the authors wrote, “we find no evidence to suggest that voter identification regulations are associated with lower turnout among any age cohort in any of our three elections.” If anything, there is a small positive effect on turnout.

Those on both sides of the issue ought to ponder the available research. If you think that requiring voters to show identification will disenfranchise large numbers of citizens who would otherwise cast legitimate ballots, the research findings are inconsistent with your thesis. However, if you think that requiring voters to show ID will deter large numbers of non-citizens or felons who would otherwise cast fraudulent ballots, the same research findings are inconsistent with your thesis, as well.

Realistically, voter ID requirements are an insurance policy against the possibility that an extremely close election might be stolen by voter fraud. Keep in mind that because we run so many federal, state, and local elections in North Carolina, “extremely close” elections are not exactly unheard of. In the 2012 cycle, only a few hundred votes separated victorious U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre from David Rouzer in the 7th District. A state senate race was settled by a few dozen votes.

The public overwhelmingly believes that taking out such an insurance policy makes sense. The governor and legislature are about to do it. Somehow I suspect the electoral system will survive the “controversy.”



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Proudly voted 4 times & got paid each time!

Something has to be done as I had a frustrated NC poll worker tell me that someone proudly boasted that he had voted 4 times during the past election and got paid for each one of them. 

Reasonable compromise

Pass a voter ID law, but exempt anyone who was registered to vote on or before the effective date of the legislation, allow other forms of picture ID (such as your employment ID, Sam's Club or Costco membership) to qualify as a valid ID,  and provide funding and requirement that the State provide a free Voter ID card for anyone who registers, or changes registration after the effective date of the legislation.  Still a solution in search of a problem, but not totally unreasonable.

Voter ID is a big business ploy!

The ones pushing this are doing it for business purposes!  They are trying to get people to get photo id's so they can open a checking account, buy a car or fly on an airline!  Next thing you know they will be calling for a photo id before you can even buy a drink of liquor.  It is an outrage!

No one should be forced to show a photo id for any reason.  It is against our Constitutional rights.  Where in the Constitution does it say anything about a photo id?  Did they even have digital cameras back then?  I think they were still using film! 

Do away with photo id's!  If you don't know who you are without looking at a photo of yourself then you are in a mess!

voter ID

Voter-ID is a thinly-veiled effort to hold down the number of poor, minority and younger voters; its motivation is purely partisan, since the "problem" it is supposed to address does not exist.  Note that political professionals on the Republican side have, in their enthusiasm, actually said from time to time that this is the key to winning Pennsylvania, to cite one example, and others.  If they are wrong, and I hope they are, this does not enoble their intent, which is despicable.  There is not a non-partisan purpose behind voter ID, and I think the studies cited are flimsy stuff indeed.  Every single thing that you make people do to vote, you lose a few.  For example, the Wake County Republicans reduced the number of early voting places and the hours they were open, and spread them out so that it was hard for many poor people to get to them.  If people have to find a ride, fewer of them vote.  That this did not work is partly due to how mad voter ID laws made minority voters, in particular.  I will never vote for anyone, ever again, so long as I live, who supports voter ID.  Hear me, Democrats tempted to go along and get along, since we're going to have voter ID anyway, blah, blah, blah.  You will pay with your job if you support this nonsense.

Yes, Let's keep the voter suppression movement alive!

and while we are at it , let's pass the concealed weapon carry law for bars, restaurants, and sporting events!

This republican legislature better move quickly because it's time is coming to a close - the demographic trends are are going to sweep you all away soon.

NC is becoming the laughingstock of the nation.

Track Record

Of course, it works so well enforcing our consumption of alcohol laws!

and from wasting taxpayer money

If they vote in an ID law that has already been dismissed by courts in other states -- they need to be voited out of office for choosing ideology over wise use of taxpayer money. We will have to pay a lot to defend this bill in court, and if the far right insists on a bill with provisions already overturned by a federal court: that's willful misuse of taxpayer money. 

Check the NC Constitution

Especially Article I, Sections 10 & 11

Any "voter ID" law passed by the NC General Assembly will have to adhere to the NC Constitution.

I'm betting the radicals running the legislature who keep getting their legislation slapped down by federal and state judges, won't be able to stop themselves from writing another unconstitutional law.

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