New Governor Pat McCrory(R) is signaling that he may not plan to govern from the far-right reaches of the Republican party in contrast to the way he campaigned. WRAL in Raleigh and the Greensboro News & Record are reporting that the Governor has made statements over the last few days indicating that he would accept a bill that does not require a photo ID, rather simply requires a Voter Registration card now issued to North Carolina voters when they first register. “I still would like [a] photo on it but I’d also be willing to accept other options.” Governor McCrory said Wednesday while visiting the NCGA. Republicans in the General Assembly are still promising some sort of bill very soon. Even Speaker of the NCGA Thom Tillis(R), however, is signaling that something less than the ALEC model bill (which the NCGA used on the bill that former Gov. Perdue vetoed) may be passed. This could simply be a bill forcing those who do not produce some form of ID or registration card to file a provisional ballot.
ALEC, a corporately funded group that puts legislators in contact with big money donors and writes legislation called model bills that they then get their members to push in various states, has been behind the push nation-wide for Voter ID. More than half of the Voter ID bills put forth in state legislators all over America were sponsored and supported by ALEC members. That includes here in North Carolina where the speaker Thom Tillis was awarded 2011’s ALEC legislator of the year award.
In a report dated January 7th 2013, the State Board of Elections (see below) found that as many as 613,000 voters (9.25%) of North Carolina’s voters, may not have a state issued driver’s license or identification card. According to the report 53% of the voters in question are Democrats and a quarter are over age 65. A disproportionate number, and about 30%, are African American.
The Institute for Southern Studies issued a report that concluded an effective voter ID program could cost North Carolina taxpayers $18 to $25 million over three years, just slightly more than the estimated price tag for a similar measure in Missouri. With the NC state government already suffering from crippling budget cuts there is still a question of where the state would get this money to address a “problem” where there have been no reported and verified incidents that Voter ID would have solved. Add into that the millions in legal fees that State will have to spend defending the law from inevitable challenges.
Both Speaker Tillis and Gov. McCrory made Voter ID central to the GOP message in the 2012 election cycle in spite of the fact that In 2011, the NC State Board of Elections identified all of 12 non-citizens who had improperly voted in a North Carolina election. That’s 12 out of 6.3 million registered voters state-wide. It appears, however, that they may be clearing out some elbow room so that a workable compromise can be hammered out.