Op-ed “How NC voter ID law has become a dangerous farce” originally published in the Raleigh News and Observer on January 27, 2016. Read full editorial here >>
BY BOB HALL,
In a matter of weeks, thousands of North Carolina voters will head to the polls unaware of what they’ll need to vote – and election officials will be hard-pressed to help them.
Ironically, conservative Republicans who promoted voting changes could suffer the most. The excitement of the Republican presidential primary will motivate new voters to show up, but newbies are the most likely not to have followed the twists and turns of election rule changes.
Will they be helped or frustrated at the polls? At this point, it’s up to Gov. Pat McCrory. Here’s why.
The new law cuts out safety-net provisions for new voters and dumps a load of confusing regulations on poll workers. That combination is making it hard for election officials to do their jobs. The evidence from the 2014 election is disturbing:
▪ Dr. Martha Kropf at UNC-Charlotte analyzed exit surveys from thousands of voters across the state and found that poll officials were not following the simplest of the new rules: Ask each voter, “Do you have one of the photo IDs that will be required to vote in 2016?” Kropf found that nearly half (48 percent) of the voters were not asked whether they had the proper identification. Full report >>
▪ An analysis by Democracy NC of provisional ballots and reports from poll monitors found that at least 30,000 voters were disenfranchised in 2014 because the new law repealed two safety-net provisions: same-day registration during early voting and out-of-precinct voting on Election Day. Full report >>
▪ A majority of the directors of county boards of elections interviewed by the League of Women Voters and Democracy NC said the experience of 2014 and complexity of the photo ID law made them worry whether they could recruit or fully train enough poll workers to handle the variety of problems they expect at the polls this year. Full report >>
To protect his claim that the ID law is sensible – and to protect our right to vote – McCrory needs to act swiftly. He must release emergency financial support to election officials to:
▪ Educate more voters with a clear message: Take your ID, but if you don’t have one, go anyway. Media outlets are mistakenly saying voters must have a photo ID to vote, and coverage of a trial about the ID rules makes everything even more confusing.
▪ Hire and thoroughly train more workers for North Carolina’s 3,000 voting sites. Add greeters to help voters before they wait in line 45 minutes only to learn they’re at the wrong poll or must go to the help desk for “the right forms.” Add more workers to staff help desks and serve curbside voters.