The Democrat complaint list goes on and on against photo voter ID in North Carolina: voter suppression, new Jim Crow laws, onerous requirements for college students to cast ballots, etc.
Liberals and their mainstream press allies are at it again, but this is nothing new. They are spouting the exact same old rhetoric used in Georgia before the passage of its photo voter ID law in 2005. Opponents labeled the new law a Jim Crow-era tactic that would be used to suppress the African-American and Hispanic vote. Supporters of voter ID insisted that it was needed to ensure the integrity of the elections process by preventing fraud at the polls.
Georgia’s voter ID law was originally contested in the courts, but won approval and was implemented in 2007. It was first utilized in the 2008 statewide general elections and in no way suppressed the minority vote. In fact, just the opposite occurred — opponents of photo voter ID found themselves “eating crow” from the start of the law’s implementation.
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution conducted an extensive elections data review of voter participation in Georgia. It showed that voting by African-Americans rose 44 percent from 2006 (before photo voter ID) to 2010 (after photo voter ID). The increase was even greater for Hispanics — up 67 percent. Turnout among whites was only up 12 percent.
As expected, African-American voting spiked when Obama first ran for President in 2008. However, African-American turnout also increased for the following off-year election of 2010, and this increase was much greater than the previous off-year election of 2006.
Clearly, another factor was driving voter turnout. Could it possibly have been a belief in “election integrity?” Regardless of race, doesn’t everyone want to know that their vote counts and is not diluted by electoral fraud?
Another baseless claim made by liberals and the mainstream media is that North Carolinians should not be worried about protecting their elections from voter fraud because “there isn’t any.” In reality, how would anyone know the extent of election cheating? It is inaccurate and inherently reckless to claim that a problem doesn’t exist when — without photo ID — there is no means to measure fraudulent voting.
Lastly, the naysayers claim that the taxpayer will need to pick up the tab for over 300,000 citizens who do not have photo IDs and cannot afford to pay for them. Georgia’s experience again holds some potential clues as to the validity of this argument. At the time their law was passed, Peach State opponents claimed that over 600,000 free IDs would be required, costing taxpayers millions of dollars. They were just a little off the mark. Since photo voter ID was implemented in 2007, only 26,506 Georgians have obtained free photo IDs.
Opponents of photo voter ID are more than happy to bury their heads in the sand and pretend no problems could or do exist. While they have done so, more than 30 states have adopted voter ID laws. North Carolina is now one of the last states in the Southeast to consider doing so.
The question that everyone should ask is: “What’s wrong with identifying yourself at the polls?” We all do so at the bank, bar, airport and when using a credit card. Besides, when it comes to voting, we are talking about a fundamental constitutional right.
Why are Democrats making such a big deal about this issue when 72 percent of North Carolinians agree with producing a photo ID at the polling place? A majority of registered Democrats even agree with this reasonable requirement. Maybe the politicians know something that the rest of us don’t. Will we be surprised at the extent of election fraud we discover once individuals are required to identify themselves in order to vote?
Thom Goolsby is a state senator, practicing attorney and law professor. He is a chairman of the Senate Judiciary 1 and Justice and Public Safety Committees.