Voter ID law needs some changes

By Wendy Byerly Wood -

Unfortunately, people lie, and while some falsehoods may be harmless like fudging a little on a person’s age or weight, others can cause great harm.

Personally, I’m torn when it comes to whether I support the Voter ID law. My battle of sides is not because it was created by one party or another, or even because of how some groups claim it hurts one economically-challenged group of people and plays advantage to another.

As a past precinct judge on Election Day, the Voter ID law will greatly help those working the polls. It guarantees the voter’s honesty. As it stands now, just anyone can walk into a poll claim they are someone on that register of voters, sign that person’s name and vote in the person’s place. It is identity theft that, while it doesn’t harm someone financially, takes away a person’s most basic rights of freedom.

So yes, I think everyone should be required to show some form of certified identity when they enter the poll to vote, whether that is their registration card, a state license or identification card, a passport, even a student ID from a school.

My qualms with the law arise for other reasons, reasons that many people may not be aware of exist within its words thanks to politicians sliding in other “rules” under a misleading title.

The law lessened the number of days for one-stop, or early, voting, limiting the amount of time people have to cast their ballot. It eliminated same-day registration at one-stop sites, which means there may be people who will not be able to vote otherwise.

One big concern I have is for people whose birth date falls after the registration deadline will not be able to vote despite the fact they will be 18 years old on Election Day. My son will be one of those victims if the law does not change in the next 13 years.

I remember my first election. I stood in line in the gym at Oak Ridge Elementary School, it was a presidential primary, the first time Bill Clinton ran for office and won. I went with my parents, and I thought we would be there for hours. There were no one-stop early voting sites back in those days.

The same year I was unable to vote in my home precinct on Election Day due to being off at college, but I didn’t let that stop me. I voted absentee to make sure my vote counted. I grew up knowing how important it was to vote as a way of voicing your opinion. My parents were never very vocal about political issues at home, not like I am, but they never missed an election or primary that I know of, so it was instilled in me that it was very important.

How is it the state of North Carolina can deny my son his right to vote by the U.S. constitution? Pre-registration to vote is not allowed, so he won’t be able to register until he is 18, which would be either only a couple of days prior to or possibly the day-of Election Day the year he turns 18, meaning he will not be able to vote for the first time. How is this not a clear violation of his right to vote?

The law also is going to cost taxpayers money, especially in Surry County, when we’ve been using touch-screen voting machines for years and now all of a sudden we have to buy all new machines, software, and more to go back to the archaic version of paper ballots.

It is also costing taxpayers money since the state is fighting legal battles over it in court right now. The judicial system has been hearing arguments against the bill since last Monday in court in Winston-Salem.

I think legislators need to reconsider a number of points in the law. Yes, I believe people should have to show a form of credible photo ID, but there are a large number of other issues with the law that need to be eliminated or adjusted. Beware, the people who voted the law in and signed it can always be voted out of office next time around at the polls. That’s our right as voters to decide.

Wendy Byerly Wood is editor of The Tribune, The Yadkin Ripple and The Pilot. She may be reached at, 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.

By Wendy Byerly Wood

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