Republicans in North Carolina’s House of Representatives presented their newest voter identification bill on Thursday and were met, not surprisingly, with partisan praise on the right and derision on the left.
The bill mandates that voters show a government issued identification card at the polls, starting with the 2016 election, and spells out changes to the absentee voting process, which take effect in 2014, including a form where voters would fill out identification information.
Opponents of the bill have made the same tired argument — that the law places unnecessary roadblocks in front of voters and is designed to prevent certain individuals, presumably Democrats, minorities and the poor, from voting. Politicians and groups in support of the bill have made their own worn-out statements — that many people are used to showing identification at all kinds of places and that the polls should be no different.
The important point is that the bill is designed to safeguard the most crucial moment in our electoral process — the moment a citizen enters a polling place with the intention of placing a vote.
The law makes a necessary provision for the protection of indigent citizens, who would have the cost of an ID, estimated at $10, offset by the state. Members of both major parties and unaffiliated voters would all be affected.
The bill addresses some of the longstanding transparency problems that have plagued elections both in North Carolina and nationwide for years. The open and transparent voting process in this country has helped make our elections some of the fairest in the world, but too often stories arise of names of deceased individuals or multiple votes on the records. This bill places a roadblock not in front of honest participants in our democracy, but in front of individuals wishing to tarnish our electoral outcomes.
The electoral system must be protected from unscrupulous individuals who wish to sway the results, no matter which way they wish to sway them. Requiring that voters identify themselves, while not penalizing the disadvantaged, is a simple and common-sense solution to some of our electoral problems.