North Carolina Voter ID Bill is a Necessary Evil

No longer subject to the Voting Rights Act, which a month ago the Supreme Court ruled as archaic, many U.S. states previously compelled to attain federal approval before enacting election reforms are now able to do so independently. And North Carolina senators have seized this opportunity to legislate more stringent voting procedures, the cornerstone of which is a voter ID mandate.

This bill was passed on Thursday evening and awaits affirmation in the governor’s office, but its opponents warn that if signed, it will threaten the voting rights of many across the state, especially poor and minorities. With upwards of 300,000 North Carolinians without a government-issued ID, this is a valid concern. But voter fraud plays an undeniable role in today’s American elections, both local and national, and this bill is a necessary step in correcting this disconcerting trend. Presenting an ID is a regular practice in the U.S. and requiring it at the polls is a reasonable measure to improve the integrity of elections.

Voter fraud is much more prevalent than many Americans believe. There are currently over 24 million invalid registered voters across the nation, 2.75 million voters who are registered in more than one state, 160 U.S. counties that boast more registered voters than actual residents, and 1.8 million dead citizens who are still technically eligible to vote. This is not a casual occurrence — it is an epidemic.

States need to clean up their voter registration and voting processes, and North Carolina’s bill does just that. State House Speaker Tom Tillis, who’s a strong proponent of the bill, argues that it is a practical and inevitable component of a democratic system. He notes: "This common-sense legislation responds to the majority of citizens who desire a fair and accountable election system."

Indeed, every U.S. citizen deserves the right to vote and no economic stresses should hinder that right. And a requirement to own an ID admittedly contradicts that standard. Yet in the absence of that requirement, American society has generally proven incapable of maintaining democratic integrity. An ID costs $10 in North Carolina, and that's a small price to pay in order to prevent the distortion of America’s elections that is all too common.

The North Carolina NAACP president, Reverend William J. Barber II, feels that an ID requirement is more of a burden than members of the state leadership anticipate. He decries that it is "the most comprehensive attack on the right to vote that this state has enacted since the institution of Jim Crow laws." While this statement is an absolute overstatement of the magnitude of the bill’s repercussions, it might behoove the North Carolina Senate to legislate a supplement bill that provides voters with a free state voting ID, something that might cost merely pennies to manufacture.

Technicalities aside, North Carolina’s initiative to require voter identification is a rational approach to voter fraud. No democratic system can exist that so indifferently allows people to participate illegitimately, and ultimately distort the results of elections. There are steps that might be taken to assuage the impact that this requirement will have on lower-income voters, but the general framework of the bill should be maintained in North Carolina and encouraged throughout the rest of the U.S.