Important to keep elections accessible
In North Carolina, lawmakers clamoring for voter identification requirements will likely get their wish thanks to a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, the court ruled 5-4 that provisions of the Voting Rights Act cannot be enforced unless Congress changes rules on which areas of the country still require monitoring.
Leaders in the General Assembly were quick to open the process of rolling out a photo ID requirement from the depths of a Senate committee.
Tuesday’s ruling — which does have an impact on North Carolina — nullifies the need for the state to have laws passed by the General Assembly for statewide and local elections in certain areas to be “cleared” by the U.S. Justice Department.
It is that provision that held a voter ID bill in the Senate Rules Committee since the legislation passed the House in April. Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson and chair of the Rules Committee, told the Associated Press Tuesday the Senate “didn’t want the legal headaches of having to go through preclearance if it wasn’t necessary.”
Now, the road is paved for voters to be required to present one of several forms of state-issued photo IDs beginning in 2016.
We have long argued that this issue is a solution looking for a problem.
Neither side of the debate can produce concrete evidence that can sway the voting public to believe it is or isn’t necessary to require a photo ID at the polls.
There have been no reported cases of widespread voter fraud nor has there been any evidence that voters will be disenfranchised from voting if they are forced to obtain a photo ID.
Preclearance also refers to the state’s recent redistricting efforts that are currently being challenged in court.
Again, we have long-advocated for an independent redistricting committee to be charged with redrawing the state’s various election districts.
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said it best when he was quoted as saying:
“Now that this important tool used to fight election law discrimination is gone, the legislature must take even more care to resist new laws that make it harder for people to vote.”
The bottom line is North Carolina lawmakers have an obligation to ensure elections are open and accessible to the voting public.
Lawmakers need to shift focus on solving the ills of the state — unemployment and taxes to name a few — and spend less time on legislation that appears to be much ado about nothing.
By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board
The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett, Dr. Shermaine Surratt and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark