The elections of 2020 are almost here and it seems that politicians are looking for more ways to usurp votes for their own parties. Some states have suggested allowing illegal immigrants to cast ballots, which would likely mean greater turnout for the Democratic Party. In North Carolina, they have now made it so that voters do not need to have photo identification to choose their preferred candidates.
Judge Loretta Biggs has temporarily halted the voter ID requirement law, a move that Rev. T. Anthony Spearman, president of the NAACP North Carolina chapter, called a positive step in removing discrimination against blacks and Latinos. “This is a long-fought-for victory against voter suppression and for equal access to the ballot in this state,” he cheered. Is requiring a photo ID racist?
The previous controversial law from 2013 was struck down in 2017 because it reportedly restricted voting in five ways that disproportionately affected black voters. A judge from the lower court found that NC’s restrictions targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision.”
The law required voters to:
- Present an approved form of photo identification before casting a valid ballot.
- Reduced the early voting period from 17 to ten days.
- Eliminated out-of-precinct voting.
- Removed same-day registration and voting.
- Abolished preregistration by 16-year-olds.
Republicans are facing harsh criticism for trying to make it harder to commit voter fraud, a topic that has been a concern across the nation. But Democrats argue the GOP is trying to ram laws into the system to make it harder for Americans to vote.
Voters approved the photo identification requirement by 55%, yet Judge Biggs blocked it, angering many opponents of the requisite. Jeff Hauser, a spokesman for the state’s Republican Party, said:
“Unfortunately, this injunction is yet another example of judges legislating from the bench. This action, if it is allowed to stand, will invalidate the votes of millions of North Carolinians who voted overwhelmingly to implement voter ID and strengthen the integrity of N.C. elections.”
Photo IDs are required for many Americans’ rights and privileges including purchasing alcohol, driving, buying firearms, cashing checks, and even getting library cards. One of the most important duties a person can perform is electing officials to govern their city, county, state, and country. Requiring proof of identity and legal residence should not fall under the racist narrative.
But, somehow, it does. And the Old North State isn’t finished with the voting issue. Activists are fighting the current law that prohibits prisoners and those who have been released but have yet to meet their requirements from voting. One claim is that the law discriminates against poor people because convicts can have a difficult time paying fines and other financial burdens after returning to society.
Mike Miller is the district attorney for Cleveland and Lincoln counties and also a supporter of the current restrictions. “While it is a right to vote, it is a privilege,” he argued. “I don’t think it’s unfair for society [for felons] to do what that court told them to do before their rights are restored.”
Another argument that follows the discrimination angle is that blacks and Latinos are targeted because of the large percentage of their population that are behind bars or who have been released under supervision. By allowing them the right to vote, the voter pool will grow significantly which can be the tip of the scale needed in presidential battleground states, such as is the case of North Carolina. For example, according to the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, it is estimated that 69,386 people in the state couldn’t vote in 2017 under the current restrictions.
Voting is a duty, a right, and a privilege limited to legal citizens of the United States who are alive (That shouldn’t have to be mentioned here, but too many expired people have been voting), have proof of residency, photo identification, and are not incarcerated. If discrimination is the issue, wouldn’t more effort towards education and rehabilitation be more effective than endangering the security and integrity of our voting system?
Read more from Kelli Ballard.