The Proposed Voter Photo ID Bill
Statement from Democracy North Carolina Executive Director Bob Hall on House Bill 351
Made at the Elections Committee hearing on the bill held on March 15, 2011
"I’m Bob Hall, director of the nonpartisan organization Democracy North Carolina. We have routinely made all of you mad at us. In 1998, we called out then House Speaker Harold Brubaker, a Republican, for improperly laundering huge amounts of corporate money into NC elections. Then we called out the illegal fundraising of House Speaker Jim Black, a Democrat. And we filed a complaint against the Democratic Party for creating a sham campaign account for Gov. Mike Easley.
Now, I’m afraid I have to say that this so-called “Restore Confidence in Government Act” is as phony as a three-dollar bill. It has certain appearance of being genuine, but if you hold it up to the light and examine it more closely, it’s a sham, a political trick.
To begin with, for people concerned about voter fraud, this bill does nothing to address the most frequent ways fraud happens.
First, it doesn’t add any new safeguards on absentee voting; in fact, this bill makes it easier to get an absentee ballot. But here’s the truth: the rate of somebody impersonating someone else is ten times higher for people voting with absentee ballots than those who vote in person. Ten times!
Second, the bill will not prevent a person who has moved out of the county or out of the state from coming back and voting in their old precinct because under this bill they can just show their old NC driver’s license as their ID. That’s what the bill allows.
Third, it won’t stop non-citizens or people still serving a felony sentence from voting. They have photo IDs, so requiring them to show an ID won’t stop them from voting.
So people who believe fraud is widespread can have no confidence that this bill will really reduce fraud. It only makes voting more difficult for people who don’t have a government-issued photo ID. That’s all it does – target people without a government photo ID. And the data for North Carolina clearly shows that they are disproportionately low-income, people of color, seniors and women.
As for the other parts of the bill:
Allocating $600,000 for providing voter IDs and voter education is another indication of what a sham this bill is. That’s an absurdly low number.
Mandating the use of federal money from the Help America Vote Act for buying photographic equipment is highly suspect and subject to challenge. A 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.
The pay-to-play section is a sham because it still allows companies to have their executives give $10,000 or $100,000 to an elected official a few days or a few weeks before the official decides who gets a big government award. The bill only stops the contractor from giving after they get the contract, not before the contract award is made.
The part about making candidates liable for the campaign’s violations says they are only liable if they receive a notice about the violation when it actually happens, which is ludicrous.
Other parts of the bill have good ideas but they have odd twists that make them slanted and partisan.
Unfortunately, the result is a very partisan piece of legislation. It’s very sad. The people of North Carolina deserve better than this."
If you are from the media and have any questions about this statement, please contact our Executive Director Bob Hall at 919-489-1931.