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Republicans to press ahead with voter ID law

March 5, 2013 2:12:38 PM PST
Republicans in the North Carolina House of Representatives said Tuesday they'll press ahead with plans to pass a voter identification law this session.

Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) said there will be public hearings and multiple committee meetings on the contentious issue before a bill is filed.

"A convincing majority of North Carolinians support voter ID, and we will pass a strong bill this session," Tillis said.

Conservatives have been pushing for a law that would require some form of photo identification to cast a ballot in North Carolina for over a year.

They say it's necessary to prevent voter fraud. Liberal groups point out that voter fraud is not a problem in the state and say a photo ID requirement is a thinly veiled attempt to weed out voters who would be more likely to support Democrats - including minorities and elderly people.

Republicans say that is not the intent.

"We will be deliberate and judicious in our approach to voter ID," said Rep. David Lewis, Chairman of the House Elections Committee. "We are confident that this open process will produce a bill that stands up in a court of law, addresses legitimate concerns, and protects the integrity of the ballot box."

Republicans in the General Assembly already passed a similar bill two years ago, but it was vetoed by then-governor and Democrat Bev Perdue. Current Governor Pat McCrory has indicated he'll support it.

A new poll from the conservative leaning Civitas Institute shows respondents mostly favor the bill.

While opponents of the bill say they continue to be against it, they recognized Tuesday that they don't have the votes to prevent it becoming law.

Bob Hall, with the group Democracy North Carolina said he appreciated being asked to give input on the whatever law the Republicans draft.

"We will work diligently with others to provide constructive proposals to protect the integrity of the election process and ensure that no eligible voter is turned away, or made to come back a second time, simply because they lack or forget to bring a photo ID when they vote," said Hall.

The American Civil Liberties Union claims a voter ID bill would disenfranchise one million North Carolinians.

North Carolina's chapter of the NAACP has also said the bill would waste of taxpayer money.

"We've got real problems in North Carolina - unemployment, educational equality, healthcare, fair tax reform," Rev. William Barber with the NC NAACP said recently.

Tillis said the first step for the bill begins Wednesday, when the House Elections Committee holds an organizational meeting.

Next Tuesday (March 12), a public hearing will be held at 4:00 pm in room 643 of the Legislative Office Building in Raleigh.

Tillis said a bill will likely be filed toward the end of March or early April.

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