The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday September 26th

Voter ID case put on hold until after March elections

The case before Morgan dealt with whether a June amendment allowing for exceptions to the 2013 law made existing complaints moot; he issued a hold because the amendment was not enough to dismiss the case.

The General Assembly passed the voter ID law in August 2013, requiring state voters to show government-issued photo identification when voting in person, effective 2016.

After civil rights groups opposed the law, the General Assembly passed an amendment in June that created an exception to the photo ID requirement.

“(The law is) the broadest attack on voting rights in the country because it eliminated same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting and preregistration to vote for 16- and 17-year-olds,” said George Eppsteiner, a staff attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which is currently challenging the photo-ID requirement in state court.

The reasonable impediment exception allows voters to fill out a declaration stating the reason they can’t get a photo ID. The declaration allows voters to use other forms of identification to vote, such as their birth date and the last four digits of their social security number.

“What we will have to see in the upcoming primary is if voters are turned away whether they have photo ID or will be offered the exception,” Eppsteiner said.

Susan Myrick, an election policy analyst at the right-leaning Civitas Institute, said North Carolina’s law is very similar to South Carolina’s and that 30 states already have voter ID laws.

“We have seen voter turnout actually go up in states that adopted voter IDs laws,” she said.

According to a press release issued by the co-chairpeople of the Joint Legislative Elections Oversight Committee, polls have consistently shown that more than 70 percent of North Carolinians support requiring voters to show photo ID.

Eppsteiner said the public so far does not know much about the exception and the N.C. State Board of Elections is focusing on upcoming municipal elections instead of spreading the word.

“They’re saying that they’re waiting until November to get the word out — only a couple months before the March primary,” he said.

Myrick said that when she worked for the Wake County Board of Elections from 2001-09, one of the board’s biggest questions was why IDs were not required.

“When someone does something such as vote and they don’t ask for your ID, it really takes people aback,” she said.

Eppsteiner said the state needed to make sure voters weren’t disenfranchised by changes in the law.

“If a voter is not informed of what it is, the burden is on the state to educate the voters on what the law is and exceptions to it,” Eppsteiner said.

state@dailytarheel.com



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