Voter ID Debate Continues In North Carolina House

Dec 4, 2018

House lawmakers will continue committee debate on a voter ID bill today, as one lingering question may soon get an answer.

The legislation, needed after voters approved an amendment to the state constitution mandating photo ID at the polls, passed the Senate last week. At a House election committee Monday night, debate was civil and at times good natured. Multiple Democratic lawmakers offered praise to Republicans for what they coined a “less restrictive” measure than what was rolled out five years ago. And while the House hearing was cordial, the expectation of litigation was acknowledged.

“I’m just going to say up front, I got a lot of questions tonight,” said Darren Jackson (D-Wake) the House minority leader. “I think we all know that this is going to court, and so I want to make sure it’s very clear to any court that reviews this legislation what they’re looking at.”

The election law bill passed in 2013, colloquially known as a voter ID measure, was ultimately ruled unconstitutional by a federal court for targeting minorities with almost surgical precision.

Legislators turned to voters for this current effort to get voter ID implemented. It earned the approval of more than 55 percent of the vote. Lawmakers are now sorting through the details of which IDs would be permissible, enacting reasonable impediments, and the timing of implementation. One lingering question has been how much it would cost the state and counties to carry out the specifics of the plan.

“We have asked for one sir, I expect to have one. I certainly will have a dollar amount to plug into the bill by tomorrow (Tuesday),” said David Lewis (R-Harnett) when asked about when a fiscal note in the bill.

Some county election officials have expressed concern that the bill could amount to an unfunded mandate.The election committee resumes at 1 p.m. Tuesday and you can listen here.

The full House chamber is expected to vote on the bill this week, and then it goes to the Governor. He has repeatedly expressed concerns with voter ID policy, though he has yet to explicitly say he would veto this measure.