Photo Voter ID Only Makes Sense
by Senator Thom Goolsby
As the debate rages over photo voter ID, it is fascinating to listen to the arguments against the proposed law. The opposition continues to repeat the same old lines used back in 2005 when Georgia passed a similar photo ID bill.
Opponents in the Peach State claimed that photo voter ID was nothing more than a Jim Crow-era tactic to suppress the minority vote. Further, they claimed that the state would have to pay out millions of dollars for ID cards for the hundreds of thousands of indigent people who would require them.
Neither of these situations occurred. Far from suppressing the minority vote in Georgia, minority voting hit an all-time high in 2008, after the law won court approval. As was expected, African-American voter turnout spiked in 2008, when President Obama ran for the first time.
In Georgia’s 2010 midterm elections, black voter participation fell, as did participation by all demographic groups. However, a far greater share of black voters turned out in 2010 than in the prior off-year election in 2006. This showed that Obama was not the only factor driving turnout. Far from depressing turnout, a good argument can be made that photo voter ID in Georgia increased turnout because it instilled more trust in the system.
Regardless, the facts are the facts. From 2006 – before voter ID was implemented – through 2010, black voter participation rose by 44 percent. During the same time period, the Hispanic vote rose by 67 percent. Turnout among white voters only increased 12 percent.
If photo voter ID is only about shutting down the minority vote, the Republicans pushing the legislation may be digging their own graves. Democrats, who have much higher registration among minority voters, might want to look at the Georgia results and change their tune!
The other argument against photo voter ID that does not withstand the results of the Georgia experiment is the cost of ID cards. Opponents of photo ID claim that more than 600,000 voters will be disenfranchised unless free ID cards are given out, costing millions of dollars. The same argument was made in Georgia, a state of similar size and demographic makeup. Guess how many people applied for and received free voter ID cards, courtesy of the Peach State since 2007? The number is 29,611 in the last six years.
So what is all the fuss about? Why is the NAACP continuing to raise the same old Jim Crow arguments that did not work in Georgia? Why haven’t you heard about the Georgia experience before? Why do the Democrats continue to repeat the same false arguments, sling mud and race bait?
Try as they night, the political left cannot fool the voters, even those on their own side. A recent poll conducted by Elon University showed that more than 72 percent of North Carolinians supported a law requiring voters to show photo ID before being allowed to cast a vote. Over half the Democrats polled supported voter ID. Ninety-seven percent of the participants in the poll stated that they already had an acceptable form of photo ID.
In the end, all of the arguments against photo voter ID are much to do about nothing. Ask the average person on the street and they will tell you that it only makes sense to have voters identify themselves at the polls. In everyday life, none of us have trouble presenting our ID card in order to cash a check or to prove who we are when we are using a credit card or boarding an airplane.
The time has come for North Carolina to go the same way as Georgia and adopt a reasonable photo voter ID law. The last time that such a law was passed, Democrat Governor Perdue vetoed it. Ironically, she had a party at the Governor’s Mansion the same night. Guess what was required to get into the mansion? You guessed it – a photo ID!
Thom Goolsby is a state senator, practicing attorney and law professor. He is a co-chair of the Senate Judiciary 1 committee.
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