Representative Tom Murry is interviewed about the new Voter ID Law on Legislative Week in Review by UNC-TV’s Kelly McCullen. To watch the entire program, click here.
Representatives Harry Warren, Tom Murry, Tim Moore and House Majority Conference Majority Leader Ruth Samuelson have introduced House Bill 589 — the Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA) — that would require North Carolina citizens to present a photo identification at the polls when voting. The bill would establish a Voter Information Verification Agency to administer the provisions of the legislation. The agency would help voters understand the law and provide assistance to voters who do not have the required identification.
The bill’s sponsors held a press conference on the day of filing to explain the bill, how it would work, and how it now contains changes that accommodate input gathered at three public hearings held by the Committee on Elections. They were joined at the press conference by House Speaker Thom Tillis and the House Elections Committee Co-chairman David Lewis.
“We are here to announce that after a deliberate and transparent process, we will be filing a voter ID bill today that protects the integrity of the ballot box and respects the sanctity of the right to vote,” said Speaker Tillis at the press event. “We have arrived at a bill that we believe will stand up in a court of law, address legitimate concerns about voting access, and move North Carolina to a photo identification voting system.”
The bill allows multiple forms of state-issued IDs — from North Carolina or any other state — that are acceptable to present in order to vote, including:
- U.S. passport
- U.S. military ID
- Non-operator licenses
- Student IDs from state institutions
- State employee IDs and travel cards
- Driver’s licenses up to 10 years after their expiration date
An eligible voter could choose to have their photo included in a state photo database that can be accessed at the polls. Even without a photo ID, a person could vote using a provisional ballot — and then show a valid ID to their county Board of Elections office at a later date to have their vote counted. Voters who are 70 years or older would be allowed to use IDs which have been expired for ten years or less.
Voters who do not have a driver’s license will be able to get a non-operator’s license from the Division of Motor Vehicles (at a cost of around $10) and free identification on the condition that they will swear to a legitimate financial hardship. In the event that a voter with a hardship case needs a copy of their birth certificate in order to get an ID, the state would cover that cost as well. The Voter ID bill also expands places that offer voter registration to include senior centers and county facilities, such as parks & recreation centers.
Also included are new rules for voting by mail. Absentee voters would use a new form created by the Board of Elections to request a ballot and they would be required to return the application with an identifying number (a Social Security or driver’s license number) or copy of a utility bill, bank statement, payroll check, or a government document with a voter’s current name and address.
While some voter ID laws in other states have been struck down by courts, the new North Carolina voter ID law was modeled after a Georgia law which was cleared under the Title 5 of the Federal Voting Rights Act. “We want to do it in a way that it becomes a reality,” said chairman David Lewis. “It would be a neglect of the legislative process if we did not take into account the recent Department of Justice rulings that were handed down in South Carolina and Texas.”
The North Carolina Voter ID Program would become effective for elections in 2016, but the law would get a “soft start” in 2014 when some provisions addressing absentee voting would take effect. HB589 is supported by Governor Pat McCrory, who ran for office in favor of voter integrity. Since the 2010 mid-term elections, eleven states have passed strict voter ID laws.
House Rules chairman Tim Moore says that a public hearing on HB 589 will be held on April 10th by the House Elections Committee, followed by a committee vote a week later. A floor vote is anticipated in the House on April 22 or April 23.