On Wednesday, a bipartisan majority of the North Carolina House of Representatives passed House Bill 589, the “Voter Information Verification Act.” The historic vote was the result of a 10-month process that included multiple public hearings, hours of testimony by experts and members of the public, and in-depth analysis of voter ID systems in numerous other states. Representative Szoka supported this important legislation.
HB589 passed the House on its second and third readings yesterday by a vote of 81-36 — a bipartisan super majority for one of the General Assembly’s key pieces of legislation this session. The bill is a product of months of work by bill sponsors and leadership of the House Elections Committee, including Representatives David Lewis, Harry Warren, Tom Murry, Ruth Samuelson and Tim Moore.
The bill is a sweeping effort to improve North Carolina’s voting process by requiring citizens to show photo identification when voting and would be fully implemented by 2016. The measure utilizes the 2014 elections as a bridge to identify which voters may be without an accepted form of photo ID and establishes a program to help citizens acquire a free photo identification card through the Department of Motor Vehicles. For citizens without photo ID’s, non-operator photo ID cards will be issued at no direct cost to the voter through the DMV.
Beyond the photo identification requirement, the bill takes steps to ensure the integrity of provisional and absentee ballots. It also directs the State Board of Elections to study the use of modern technology in voting, paving the way for further efficiency through digital efforts in the future.
“This is a historic vote for North Carolina,” said House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg). “This strong message of bipartisanship on such an important, and at times controversial, issue is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the House members who remained committed to this effort for many months. I commend their work, and I am encouraged by the overwhelming support this bill received today.”
The bill now moves to the Senate.