by N.C. Rep Ruth Samuelson
Special to South Charlotte Weekly
I can’t say the same about the November 2012 election, however. Races up and down the ballot will be hotly contested. Voter turnout will likely be high, and emotions will run even higher. The temptation for voter fraud will be great, and the possibility that the integrity of our electoral process will be called into question becomes disturbingly real.
Currently, more than half of the states have voter-identification laws. These laws give those citizens an extra measure of confidence that their election outcomes are not tainted by fraud. Unfortunately, North Carolina voters will be without such assurance in next week’s election and, possibly, in 2012.
Why hasn’t the legislature done something to protect our voters? We tried this past summer, but Gov. Perdue vetoed the common-sense bill passed by the legislature that would require citizens to show a photo ID card when voting.
Requiring voter ID enjoys broad support in North Carolina. An Elon University poll from this past spring showed 75 percent of residents support the measure. The fact that the governor would so blatantly thwart the will of her constituents causes me to wonder if there was partisan pressure from outside the state by those who see North Carolina as crucial to President Obama’s re-election chances.
Opponents of the bill say it will disenfranchise people who do not have a photo ID card. Yet, it is hard to see how one could effectively function in modern society without a photo ID. People have to show identification for all kinds of common tasks – to open a bank account, to cash a check, to board a plane, to enter a federal building, even to receive many public benefit payments. Those who do not have a photo ID certainly would be better off having one. Under the law the governor vetoed, they could have gotten one for free.
Some claim that voter fraud is not an issue in North Carolina. My response to them is: How would you know? Under current state law, voter fraud is almost impossible to detect and even harder to prosecute.
Just this year, seven other states enacted voter-ID laws to enhance confidence in their electoral process. Interestingly, voters in Mississippi will be deciding this Tuesday on a referendum that would make a voter-ID requirement part of their state constitution. If voter ID were on the ballot in North Carolina, I have no doubt that it would win by a landslide.
I’m not advocating a constitutional amendment because I think it’s still possible – and much preferable – that we find a legislative solution to the problem.
Though an attempted override of Perdue’s veto fell short in the General Assembly last August, we could try again.
So if you agree with me on this issue, I hope you will contact the governor’s office and your N.C. House and Senate representatives to encourage them to pass a voter-ID law that will protect the integrity of the very important November 2012 election.
And, this Tuesday, I hope you’ll vote. Legally.
N.C. Rep. Ruth Samuelson is a Republican who represents District 104, which includes portions of south Charlotte. She also serves as majority whip, the third ranking Republican in the N.C. House.