RALEIGH (AP) North Carolina legislators advanced permanently requiring voters to show photo identification — a proposal previously defeated by veto.
Legislation for the state’s voters to decide whether to place a photo identification directive in their state’s constitution cleared a General Assembly committee on party lines.
N.C. Republicans believe by adding the voter id requirement to the North Carolina Constitution would get permanent legal backing for the idea. Next the House must approve it in the final days of this year’s legislative session.
The proposed amendment needs support from 72 House members and 30 senators next week for it to be placed on this November’s ballot. Republican members in both chambers exceed those thresholds.
A simple majority of voter support would be needed in the referendum to change the constitution.
North Carolina required photo ID briefly for the 2016 primary elections based on a 2013 elections law, which also reduced the number of early-voting days and eliminated same-day registration during early voting. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck those restrictions down in July 2016, finding they targeted “African Americans with almost surgical precision,” citing legislative documents.
Voting rights advocates contend black voters, who historically are more likely to lack a qualifying ID card, would be harmed disproportionately by any future requirement, too.
An audit of the November 2016 elections by the state election board found 24 substantiated cases of people illegally voting multiple times among 4.8 million ballots cast. Voter impersonation potentially occurred in only one case, said the state elections board’s executive director.
GOP Rep. David Lewis of Harnett County, an amendment sponsor, said legislators would work hard to ensure the bill implementing the amendment would comply with voting rights laws: “No one’s going to be denied the chance to vote.”