This week, instead of a waiting for a duly elected N.C. General Assembly to take its time and hear from voters, lame duck lawmakers passed enabling legislation for a strict photo ID amendment (Senate Bill 824) that will impact eligible North Carolina voters’ access to the ballot.
The stated model for Senate Bill 824 is a South Carolina Voter ID law that has had a disproportionate impact on African-American voters, and it revives a great deal of the 2013 “monster voting law” already rejected in federal court. Its procedures will impose barriers on real voters. Its failure to adequately fund implementation and education efforts will make those barriers even more steep. Its debate neglected to discuss the needs of or impact on people who will have to deal with its consequences, including transgender voters and eligible voters who are detained pretrial during an election period. And its rushed and opaque process reflects a legislative body that lacks the legitimacy and perspective to address this critical issue.
In theory and practice, Senate Bill 824 will make voting more difficult for eligible North Carolinians, and in doing so especially harm both voters of color and the most vulnerable among us.
But Gov. Cooper can veto this legislation. The bill heads to his desk this week, and he needs to know that voters expect him to send it back.