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UPDATED: Voter ID bill sees more changes in the House, heads to Governor

Since passing the Senate, enacting legislation for the voter ID constitutional amendment saw some changes in the House Elections Committee and lawmakers finally learned the cost and appropriation for voter ID House Rules the night before it was up for a vote on the House floor.

Since passing the Senate, enacting legislation for the voter ID constitutional amendment saw some changes in the House Elections Committee and in the House before it passed the second and third readings Wednesday. The Senate concurred with these changes today. 

Before the second and third readings of the voter ID bill in the House, they added the following amendments:

  • Allowing exceptions for areas declared to be in states of emergency due to natural disasters by the president or the governor, not both as was previously written in the bill.
  • Clarifying on Voter ID cards that when the card expires, voter registration does not also expire.
  • Allowing the NCSBE to reevaluate the method for requesting absentee ballots and provide the General Assembly with information regarding absentee ballots in the next year.
  • Requiring the NCSBE to put all rules about voting, particularly the rules regarding residency, on their website and requiring colleges to hand this out with their IDs.
  • Requiring the NCSBE to mail each home about changes regarding voter ID rather than each registered voter. 

For more details on the substance of the bill and acceptable forms of ID, check out our earlier post. Even with the House’s changes this bill still creates significant impediments to voting for many, from people in college, to lower-income people, to people who work night shifts, to people who rely on public transportation. 

The bill appropriates in total $3.1 million for fiscal year 2018-19. Of that, $2,250,000, goes to the State Board of Elections, but $1.5 million specifically designated to the DMV for loss of revenues associated with implementing this act. An additional $850,000 goes to Public Campaign Fund to be used by county boards of election for printing equipment and maintenance. The Budget and Tax Center estimated that voter ID implementation could cost the state up to $9 million and a legislative staff estimate released Tuesday showed about $17 million over five years.

Substantive changes made in the House found in the committee substitute include:

  • Requiring the board of elections to hand out an informational sheet to voters who have to vote with provisional ballots.
  • Allowing an affidavit under perjury be signed by two witnesses in place of a photo ID so that there is no difference between the absentee and in-person ballots. This amendment was proposed by Rep. Darren Jackson and passed with some dissent.
  • Allowing of a clear photocopy of an ID as evidence of photo ID. Rep. Burr dissented, but this amendment passed.
  • Requiring colleges and universities to educate students about voting if they are providing IDs to be used for voting, with emphasis on the fact that it is a felony to vote falsely. This change faced criticism for intimidating young people and to keep them from voting.
  • Requiring colleges to recertify IDs with the Board of Elections if they change the way they look in the future and removing old school IDs from use.
  • Creating a felony for using false information to educate voters.
  • Allowing the NCGA the authority to expand acceptable ID types. This mostly focuses on studying the expansion of biometric ID and the feasibility of digital databases of photos in the future.
  • Removing the requirement that information about voting be disseminated in Spanish and other relevant languages. Rep. Debra Conrad struck this language requirement as part of an unrelated amendment because it is not a federal or state statutory requirement.

Some changes were proposed in committee but did not make it into the final bill. Those include:

  • An amendment that would have added work to the list of acceptable impediments to having an ID. Rep. Pricey Harrison emphasized the significant impediment photo ID creates for low-income people, especially those who work multiple jobs or have limited access to transportation in an attempt to add work as an accepted excuse.
  • An amendment that would have required polling places to gather fingerprints of voters casting provisional ballots without an ID.
  • An amendment that would have added all K-12 schools to the list of school IDs allowed for voting using the same process as colleges and universities. This would mean high school students who are 18, for example, would be given the same treatment as college students. 

The updated bill, if it passes on the House floor today, will be sent back to the Senate for concurrence before heading to Governor Roy Cooper for signature or veto.