A Federal Judge started hearing arguments on Monday from the NAACP and the U.S. Department of Justice which challenge a new North Carolina voter ID law which would require voters to present a photo identification. The law is set to come into effect in time for the presidential primary in the state in March.
“The right to vote is supposed to be constitutional, not confusing,” said the Reverend William Barber, who is president of the state NAACP and also the leader of the“Moral Monday” protests in Raleigh. “North Carolina’s restrictive photo-ID law remains an immoral and unconstitutional burden on voters that creates two unequal tiers of voters. We are prepared to challenge this modern form of Jim Crow in the courts even as we continue our grassroots work.”
Lawyers defending the state’s law say that they believe that most citizens will have at least some of the required forms of identification.
“It’s a policy question,” said Thomas Farr a lawyer for the State of North Carolina. “The evidence here does not rise anywhere close to showing a discriminatory intent.”
North Carolina and other advocates of voter ID laws say that voter fraud is a serious problem that undermines American democracy.
According to voterfraudfacts.com, the problem of voter fraud is greatly exaggerated when compared to the problem of disenfranchising people through restrictive regulations.
“Between 2000 and 2010 there were 649 million votes cast in general elections and 13 cases of in-person voter impersonation convictions,” the website reports.
Meanwhile, they compare voter ID laws to poll tax laws of the 19th century which were designed to prevent the poor from voting.
“Voter ID laws are seen by some as a modern form of poll tax because many of the country’s poorest will not be able to vote due to a lack of proper state issued ID,” the website explains. “In order to obtain a “free ID” they need a certified copy of a birth certificate which costs from $10 to $45 depending on the state, a passport which costs $85, and certified naturalization papers which cost $19.95. As an added catch-22 obtaining a certified copy of your birth certificate usually requires a government-issued ID.”
[The Atlantic] [Reuters] [voterfraudfacts.com] [Image courtesy of voterfraudfacts.com]