Watered down ... still problems
Last week, North Carolina House Republicans unveiled a new Voter ID bill that is a diluted version of a bill vetoed by Gov. Bev Perdue two years ago.
The latest measure requires all voters to show some form of a government-issued photograph when voting, beginning in 2016.
But, there is a little-known part of the bill that brings up significant issues.
Under House Bill 589 — known as the Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA) — it is located at the bottom of the bill filed Thursday.
Under Part II, Section 16, the bill reads: “The State Board of Elections shall study and report to the Joint Legislative Elections Oversight Committee, on or before April 1, 2014, on a secure and feasible method of creating and utilizing electronic pollbooks with digital photographs of registered voters ...”
Under the language of the bill, the digital photographs would be kept and used to verify the identity of those voting in elections.
Now, we are certainly not trying to imply that the state is entering into a “Big Brother” scenario where photos and facial recognition software can be used to keep tabs on citizens of the state, but this last measure in the VIVA can certainly lead to that implementation.
Republican leaders said they formed the bill out of transparency in the form of hearings and testimony on the bill. However, those hearings were limited to lobbyists on both sides of the measure and the public was virtually shut out when it came to their opinion.
Additionally, as we have stated before, neither side of the debate have shown any cause for why this bill is, or is not, necessary. There have been no cases made regarding widespread voter fraud that may influence the outcome of an election.
Reversely, there has also been no evidence showing that mass amounts of citizens would be disenfranchised by a voter ID bill.
That being said, polls conducted across the state, and even by this newspaper, show that citizens do believe that showing photo identification should be required. In an online poll at www.thedigitalcourier.com, 244 of close to 300 readers said they would be in favor of such a measure to cut down on voter fraud.
This bill requires additional vetting, not just by some legislative committees but by the general public. This is a bill that has an impact on every voter in North Carolina and something of that magnitude needs to have community input.
Despite the fact that this may be a “watered down” version of the bill that failed during the last session, questions need to be asked and answers need to be received.
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.