On March 17, Bob Hall, director of Democracy North Carolina wrote an article for the Charlotte Observer entitled, “Voter photo ID bill is a sham, as phony as a three dollar bill.” He couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, it seems the only thing as “phony as a three dollar bill” is Hall’s analysis.
Hall first attacks the bill’s apparent failure to address absentee fraud. He claims the voter fraud rate is ten times higher for absentee ballots as opposed to election day, in-person fraud. While the rate may be higher, the incidence of voter fraud among absentee ballots is significantly lower. Assuming Hall’s numbers are correct, if the proposed bill eliminates just half of election-day fraud, it will have twice the effect of eliminating all absentee fraud.
Hall claims the law won’t stop people who’ve moved out of state from coming back and voting, and it won’t stop non-citizens or felons from voting since they may still have photo IDs. This is an impossible rubric. No voter ID measure could accomplish this goal alone. Securing the vote is a two-step process. To ensure fair elections, we must maintain the voter roles and ensure that all those voting correspond to legitimate, registered voters. If we clean and maintain the rolls, and require identification, then these problems can be solved. But if we don’t require identification, we don’t have a chance.
Hall claims the allocated $600,000 for ID cards isn’t nearly enough. The current cost of a NC DMV ID card is $10. For $600,000, we could provide a photo ID card to 2.2% of those who voted in the 2010 general election. The only relevant question is, “do more than 1 in 50 voters lack a government-issued photo ID?” I have no data to assess this claim, but given that just about everyone who votes at my polling place drives himself, it seems unlikely.
Hall claims “the use of federal money from the Help America Vote Act for buying photographic equipment is highly suspect and subject to challenge. An honest piece of legislation would honestly assess true costs and admit that, in this budget environment, school teachers will be laid off to pay for this bill’s implementation.” This claim is absurd by any standard. HAVA funds were designated for states to make improvements in their voting system. The photographic equipment is part of that upgrade. Additionally, the Supreme Court has already upheld Indiana’s photo ID requirement, making a legal challenge unlikely—or at least, unlikely to be successful.
Finally, Hall claims, “the result is a very partisan piece of legislation. It’s very sad. The people of North Carolina deserve better.” Does it surprise anyone that this is a partisan issue? Let’s leave it at this: there’s a reason Democrats overwhelmingly oppose any kind of voter-accountability wherever it’s proposed, and this opposition has nothing to do with defending “the elderly.”