The problem with Obamacare

Thanks to Ezra Klein for sharing this spot-on Toles cartoon:

tom toles obamacare

NC Voter ID revisited

So, a while back I wrote that I was actually pretty happy with what the Republicans were proposing for voter ID in NC:

The most important feature is that all you have to do is attest that an ID creates a hardship and you don’t have to pay for it.  Neither do you have to pay for the birth certificate of marriage license you may need to get your ID.  That’s big and it basically makes the law dramatically less discriminatory.  Also, in allowing expired driver’s licenses it really becomes about simply having a Photo ID, not just another hoop to jump through.   And, hey, college students at state schools get to use their ID’s.  The truth is, given the wackiness we’ve seen, this law is even better than one could have possibly hoped for.  Are some people going to have to go to more trouble/expense to vote than before?  Absolutely.  But given what it could have been and is in other Republican-controlled states, this is a good law.  In all likelihood this will do little, if anything, to actually depress Democratic turnout (you can believe Democratic organizers will see to it that every potential Democratic voter gets that ID).

So, that was the NC House version.  Alas, it seems that the NC Senate, which passed it’s version this week, is much more transparently interested in suppressing Democratic votes than in combating the hypothetical and virtually non-existent voter fraud.  First, Steve Benen:

Of particular interest to state Republicans is curbing the youth vote. My colleague Laura Conaway has reported extensively on Ohio Republicans’ efforts to approve a voter-ID system that prohibits the use of student IDs — an effort that proved to be so indefensible that GOP policymakers in the Buckeye State eventually backed off.

North Carolina appears to be picking up where Ohio left off.

As The Nation‘s Ari Berman reported yesterday, the latest version of the pending voting restrictions prohibits the use of student IDs as a recognized form of identification.

Why? According to state Sen. Tom Apodaca (R), the bill’s chief sponsor, college IDs “could be manipulated.” Does Apodaca have any evidence of anyone, anywhere ever using a manipulated student ID to commit voter fraud? No, but he and his party are pushing this line anyway.

And the aforementioned Ari Berman:

The Senate version of the bill, posted today, is significantly tougher than the House bill passed in April…

According to the state’s own numbers, 316,000 registered voters don’t have state-issued ID; 34 percent are African-American and 55 percent are registered Democrats. Of the 138,000 voters without ID who cast a ballot in the 2012 election, 36 percent were African-American and 59 registered percent Democrats. The new draft of the bill does not allow student IDs for voting, making it among the most restrictive laws in the country. It’s worth noting that voter fraud in the state, which the legislation purports to stop, is incredibly rare; there were only two prosecutions of voter impersonation between 2000 and 2010, when millions of votes were cast…

Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina passed on his notes of how the Senate bill is stricter than the House bill:

A) Cuts in range of acceptable photo IDs:

—NO college student IDs are acceptable (House allowed NC public universities and community college ID).

—NO out-of-state driver’s license is acceptable unless you’ve just recently registered to vote (i.e., less than 90 days before the election where you’re showing your ID). House allowed government photo IDs created by other states.

—NO North Carolina county or municipal government or public employee IDs is acceptable.

—NO photo ID issued by a public assistance agency is acceptable—another slap at low-income voters.

—House allowed expired photo ID to be used, up to 10 years after expiration. But Senate version only allows the other House exception: a voter over 70 can use an expired photo ID for any length of time if it was current when they were 70.

B) Cuts in education outreach:

—NO advisory board, as in House, to advise State Board of Elections about strategies and partner groups to use in a comprehensive education program about the ID requirement.

—NO provision for additional staff at State Board to do education.

—NO reference to using the Judicial Voter Guide to include information about ID.

Yowza.  That’s a big difference.  How the differences in these two bills get resolved are going to provide some real insight into just how venal the NC Republican Party is (let’s just say I’m not optimistic).   And, again, it’s quite clear this bill is little more than a very transparent attempt at voter suppression under the guise of “voter integrity.”

That said, given that ID’s will be available at no cost and that Democrats will have till 2016 to organize on this, I suspect that the ultimate impact on turnout will be pretty minimal.  Rather, the state of NC will have just wasted millions of dollars on needless legislation for the primary political end of disenfranchising its citizens.  Hooray!

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