Democracy NC Director: Opposition to Voter ID Goes Beyond Party Lines

The fight over photo voter ID laws is far from over. Even in states such as North Carolina, where a Republican-controlled General Assembly recently failed to override Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue’s 2011 veto of a photo voter ID bill, state electoral politics continue to raise voter ID.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory has promised to implement a photo voter ID law, while Democratic Secretary of State Elaine Marshall has circulated a petition decrying such laws as efforts to suppress Democratic-leaning voters.

Bob Hall, executive director of progressive non-profit Democracy North Carolina, doesn’t care which party sponsors photo voter ID laws. In a state that only recently returned to Republican legislative control after more than 100 years, Democrats have been as guilty of historic voter suppression as Republicans.

“It used to be the Democrats that did this kind of mischief,” Hall said. Democracy North Carolina recently produced a short documentary film on the history of voting rights in the Tar Heel state. “We would have been beating up on them, too.”

While North Carolina political leaders have conceded that a photo voter ID law will not be in effect before October early voting or the November general election, Hall and other civil rights organizations in the state have been preparing a case.

“We will work with others to challenge it through the preclearance process and through the courts,” Hall said. “And we will also be helping people — if we get to that point — of learning how they can get an ID .”

What worries Hall the most, he said, is that changes in election administration law can affect the most motivated and excited voters, who often do not regularly vote.

“In 2010, Republican white males were more motivated to vote, and they did,” Hall said. “And in 2008, African American female Democrats were more motivated to vote, and they did.

“That’s the kind of voter that could be pushed away by erecting some barriers horrible enough to make it an inconvenience to vote,” he said.

By Nick Andersen, News21

N.C. Precinct Judge Wants Student Poll Workers

Young, first-time voters are a regular flashpoint in a presidential campaign. Because many of these voters (ranging in age from 18-22) have never voted in the past, candidates attempt to capture their uncommitted loyalty as a possible pathway to victory.

Carol Hazard, a precinct judge in Chapel Hill, N.C., sees a lot of these young voters in her precinct polling place in the Center for Dramatic Art on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. By her estimates, 95-percent of voters in her precinct are students.

But Hazard — who first cast a presidential ballot in the 1964 election between President Lyndon B. Johnson and Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater — thinks young, college-aged students need to do more than just vote.

“I’d love to see more student participation, get some real experience at this desk,” Hazard said while working in the Laurel Hill precinct during the state’s May presidential primary.

“Nobody knows where they live, nor do they know their precincts. Students need to know where they vote. If you change one dorm to another, at the beginning of the year, you don’t think about it.”

Hazard is in her second year of work as a precinct judge in Orange County. She said that she thinks the active political groups on the campus of the University of North Carolina should do more than just encourage their members to vote. Instead, she said that she’d like to see a representative group of student poll workers.

“I don’t care if you’re a Young Republican, a Young Democrat, a young unaffiliated voter,” Hazard said. “You should be on this side of the desk.”

By Nick Andersen, News21