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The Daily Tar Heel

Report details costs for voter ID program

Cost estimated at $843,737 for first year

A proposed bill requiring all voters to present a valid, government issued photo ID to cast a ballot is expected to not only raise an outcry but also put strain on the state’s finances.

A recent report released by the Fiscal Research Division of the N.C. General Assembly found that the cost of implementing the bill — formally called “Restore Confidence in Government”— could be as much as $843,737 for the 2012 fiscal year.

The costs would come from issuing N.C. Voter Identification Cards from Boards of Elections in different counties for people who do not have a driver’s license or other valid ID.

There are 885, 537 registered voters who do not have a valid driver’s license or non-operators ID card, according to the report.

The bill is expected to cost the Department of Motor Vehicles $2,450,341 for the same fiscal year, with $500,000 going toward voter education.

The bill will be funded by a $50 annual attorney membership fee and possibly through the Help America Vote Act, the report stated.

But Rep. Ric Killian, R-Mecklenburg, who sponsored the bill, said the bill would reduce voter fraud and not disenfranchise voters.

The bill mandates that these ID cards be free of charge, he said.

He said the bill is moving slower through committee than expected because he wanted to get everyone’s input on it.

Killian said IDs issued by public universities, such as UNC’s One Card, would be valid for purposes of voting. Out-of-state driver’s licenses and ID cards would also be acceptable.

Students have raised concerns about the bill in recent weeks because it was unclear whether it would allow out-of-state students to vote.

The bill is expected to pass both committee and the N.C. General Assembly but might be vetoed by Gov. Bev Perdue, said Damon Circosta, executive director for the N.C. Center for Voter Education.

But other opponents of the bill argue that the problem addressed by this bill — voter impersonation — does not even exist.

Jennifer Frye, associate director for Democracy North Carolina, said that only 0.5 per 100,000 ballots cast in the 2010 election constituted possible fraud cases.

Frye said the bill makes it easier to access an absentee ballot, in which 12.5 per 100,000 cast ballots constituted possible fraud cases.

“Even people who do believe fraud is widespread can still have no confidence that this bill will really address or reduce fraud,” she said.

Frye said the bill targets people without a government issued ID.

“This is concerning because the data for North Carolina clearly shows that the groups most affected by this are disproportionately low-income, people of color, seniors and women,” she said.

“When you consider all the facts, this voter photo ID bill looks like a very partisan piece of legislation — a political trick by the majority party to tilt future elections in their favor.”

Contact the State & National Editor at state@dailytarheel.com.

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