Senator McKissick attends Redistricting Conference at Duke University to discuss steps to end gerrymandering in North Carolina
Today, Senate Bill 824, which implements our state’s new constitutional amendment which will require voter IDs in future elections, received a final vote in the NC Senate and has now become the law of the State of NC. I fully anticipate that Governor Cooper will veto this legislation and that his veto will be overridden during this Special Session of the NC General Assembly. Today, protestors were present in opposition to our state’s new voter ID law.
There were a few changes made to the bill by the NC House, the most significant one, in my opinion, will require the NC State Board of Elections to adopt new rules relating to the requesting of absentee ballots in our state. In the future, a person will need to submit some form of photo identification when requesting an absentee ballot. I suspect that other changes could be made to the absentee ballot process. This particular change was enacted as a result of the compelling evidence of rampant voter fraud relating to absentee ballots in Bladen County, NC during the November General Election by a Republican consultant who was working on behalf of Mark Harris, who is a Republican running for Congress from the 9th Congressional District. As a result of ongoing investigations, the election results from the 9th Congressional District and from other races in Bladen County have not been certified by the State Board of Elections. I am optimistic that a new Special Election will be called for the 9th Congressional District so that we can have confidence in the outcome of that race. At this time, the Democrat, Dan McCready, is losing by approximately 905 votes, however, the Republican consultant and his team who were working vigorously in Bladen County on behalf of Mark Harris have submitted hundreds of absentee ballots and absentee ballot applications whose validity is questionable.
Today, Senate Republicans attempted to politicize the Bladen County situation by asking that Governor Cooper appoint a special task force to investigate absentee balloting in Bladen County, however, the scope of the task force’s investigation appears to be much broader than what is necessary or justified. We have a State Board of Elections which is lawfully charged with conducting investigations into the Bladen County situation as well as a District Attorney who can take action if criminal charges are necessary. That should be sufficient to address this current crisis that we are facing. We need to get the necessary investigations completed as expeditiously as possible, and, hopefully, a new Special Election can be conducted that will allow the voters of the 9th Congressional District to have a legitimate voice and Representative in Congress.
In case you missed it, yesterday, a draft bill was released which will establish criteria for voters to obtain and use photo IDs in future elections in NC. This bill will be voted on during the Special Session of the General Assembly which will begin November 27th and it will implement the new NC Constitutional Amendment approved by voters a few weeks ago which will require all voters in future elections to present an acceptable photo ID card before a lawfully registered person will be able to vote.
The bill will allow local County Boards of Elections to issue voter photo identification cards which would be free to voters in order to obtain such a card, a voter would have to provide his or her date of birth and the last 4 digits of the person’s social security number. The voter photo ID cards would expire eight years after the date of issuance. The photo ID cards can be issued at any time except during the period between the end of the voter registration deadline for an upcoming election and the actual election day. If a person were to lose or deface a photo ID card, a person could obtain a duplicate without charge. In addition to the cards that will be issued by County Boards of Elections, a person could use the following forms of ID:
-A Valid NC Driver’s License
-A Special Identification Card issued by the NC Division of Motor Vehicles
-A Valid US Passport
-A Valid Tribal Enrollment Card issued by a Federally Recognized Tribe
-A Student Identification Card from a State University in NC
-A Valid Driver’s License or Special Identification card issued by another state, however, it would only be good if the voter’s registration has occurred within 90 days of an election.
-A Military Identification card issued by the United States government
-A Veterans Identification card issued by the US Department of Veteran Affairs
All of the above forms of identification would need to be current and unexpired, however, if a voter was 70 years old at the time he or she presented the ID, and the ID card was unexpired on the voter’s 70th birthday, then it would be acceptable.
If for some reason a person did not have an acceptable form of ID, then they could cast a provisional ballot and it would be counted if the voter were to bring in a valid photo ID to the County Board of Elections no later than the end of the business day prior to the canvassing of votes for an election by the County Board of Elections. In addition, a voter could sign a Reasonable Impediment Affidavit upon which a voter could identify one of several reasons why the person was unable to obtain a photo identification card. Lastly, a voter would not have to produce a photo ID if they had a religious objection to being photographed, however, the voter would be required to complete an affidavit under penalty of perjury to that effect.
The proposed legislation I have reviewed is a step in the right direction, however, there is still a need to broaden its provisions to ensure that none of the 300,000 people who are lawfully registered to vote today, who do not have government-issued IDs, will still be able to vote as they have in the past, without discrimination, harassment, or difficulties.