Joint Legislative Committee Looks At Early Draft Of Voter ID

Nov 26, 2018

State Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) talks with reporters after a session of the Joint Legislative Elections Oversight Committee on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018.
Credit Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

A joint committee of state lawmakers met Monday to discuss voter ID legislation. The meeting comes ahead of Tuesday's special session of the North Carolina General Assembly.

This fall, North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring photo ID for in-person voting by more than 55 percent. The legislature now will take up enabling legislation.

An early draft, modeled on a South Carolina law, would require county elections boards to issue photo ID cards free of charge. Certain UNC system-issued IDs also would be allowed.

That raised questions for some committee members like Representative John Szoka (R-Cumberland).

"You could have a foreign national as a student at any one of our constituent universities present a passport and they would receive a state university ID," he said.

But applicants for such IDs would have to provide citizenship information.

Other acceptable forms of ID would include DMV-issued cards that would expire eight years after issuance, the same as driver's licenses. Supporters of voter ID who spoke during public comment at Monday's joint committee meeting said eight years was too long.

Democrats say the legislature should not take up voter ID legislation until January when a newly realigned General Assembly convenes for the 2019 long session, when Republicans no longer wield a veto-proof majority.

Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) said any legislation passed by this General Assembly at least should not take effect for a couple of years.

Harrison also expressed concern about North Carolina voters who have lost their driver's licenses because  of non-payment of fees or moving violations.

"We ought to be thinking about that, too," she said.

Voter ID bills are expected to be filed in the state house and senate Tuesday. The special session is expected to last through next week.