RALEIGH House Republicans announced plans Tuesday to begin moving the politically divisive voter photo ID bill through the legislature, saying they had both a mandate and broad public support for new voting safeguards.
GOP lawmakers, confident that they have the votes to pass the measure, announced a plan to slow walk the bill through the House. They said they would hold a public hearing on March 12, followed by House committee meetings in which expert testimony would be heard. They also invited opponents to share their ideas on the bill. A House vote will not be scheduled for a month.
We are going to go through a very deliberative, response-full and interactive approach through public hearings so that we arrive at a policy that is fair and that takes into account legitimate reasons why voters may not have an ID and puts into effect a way in which those IDs can be issued, Tillis said at a news conference attended by about 30 GOP House members.
But if the House Republicans were making nice, the Democrats said it was the same old proposal that they fought in 2011.
You cant tell me voter ID is needed, particularly in this state, where you have less than 1 percent of voter fraud even attempted, said Rep. Mickey Michaux, a Durham Democrat. No one has shown me any reason to require that you walk up and present a voter ID to vote.
The State Board of Elections referred for prosecution 310 cases of voter fraud from the 2008 election out of 4.3 million votes cast.
Democratic Sen. Floyd McKissick, also of Durham, argued that the measure would disproportionately affect Democrat and independent voters. That is their goal to oppose that (Democratic) vote by any means necessary, he said.
Tillis cited polls showing the measure had broad support. An Elon Poll, a survey of 891 residents released on Monday, found that 72 percent of North Carolina residents backed a voter ID photo requirement.
Rep. David Lewis, the chairman of the House elections committee, said the Republican lawmakers won election in November on the platform of enacting a photo ID bill
We believe the integrity of the election system itself is important, said Lewis of Dunn, who is a member of the Republican National Committee. We are doing this so that every North Carolinian, every citizen who is entitled to vote, has the opportunity to do so and that that vote counts.
Lewis said he welcomed opponents to the table to help shape the bill to make sure no one is excluded from voting.
Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, an opponent of the voter ID law, said he would accept the GOP invitation to offer positive suggestions.
We will work diligently with others to provide constructive proposals to protect the integrity of the election process and ensure that no eligible voter is turned away, Hall said.
The Republican-led legislature passed a voter ID bill in 2011, but it was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory campaigned in favor of a voter ID law, and is expected to sign a new bill into law.
I think voter ID is what you need to get Sudafed in the stores, what you need to get on a plane, what you need to get many government services at this time, McCrory said Tuesday after an event at the governors mansion. I do think there will be protections available for people who dont have immediate access to IDs and there will be ways to do that.
I think requiring an ID to vote is a common sense practice.
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