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Debate on voter ID law to be held today

The results of November’s gubernatorial election could prompt North Carolina to join 11 other states in requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls.

Republican candidate Pat McCrory and Democratic candidate Walter Dalton will debate on voter ID laws and other issues today at 7 p.m. at the UNC-TV studios in Research Triangle Park, a few hours before the presidential debate.

A voter ID law could make voting more difficult for students, said Austin Gilmore, president of UNC Young Democrats.

“The claims of voter fraud are baseless, using fear tactics to convince the public that disenfranchisement is the only way to have free and fair elections,” he said.

If the law passes, out-of-state students could have difficulty obtaining an acceptable ID before Election Day, Gilmore said.

Every year an out-of-state student changes address, he or she would need to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles and apply for a new ID to vote in the state, he said.

Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed a voter ID law, the “Restore Confidence in Government” act filed by Republicans last year. Legislators may attempt to override the veto next session.

McCrory supports a voter ID law, said Ricky Diaz, campaign spokesperson.

“McCrory believes in protecting the integrity of the voting system,” he said.

In a video McCrory posted earlier this year, he said showing an ID at the polls is “necessary to protect a fair and democratic vote.”

Dalton opposes a voter ID law because there is little, if any, evidence of voter fraud, said Schorr Johnson, spokesperson for Dalton.

“It could disenfranchise legal voters, especially seniors and rural voters,” he said.

Dalton supports measures to require a photo ID when residents register to vote or arrive at the polls for the first time, Johnson said.

Students without a driver’s license can obtain an acceptable form of photo identification from the DMV 20 days after submitting an application, said Marge Howell, spokesperson for the N.C. DMV.

The cost of a photo ID from the DMV is $10, but the homeless and legally blind are able to get one for free, she said.

To get a photo ID from the DMV, students need proof of residence, a social security number and proof of age and identity, Howell said.

Howell said she expects photo IDs would also be issued through the N.C. Board of Elections if a voter ID law were implemented.

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