The real-world impact of NC’s voter ID law

Democracy Now in NC did a study to see how many votes went uncounted under the new rules adopted this year that would have counted in previous elections.  From WRAL:

With the voter registration deadline for the November elections one month away, a voting watchdog group said Wednesday that it’s already found hundreds of cases in which last year’s changes to state election laws have prevented otherwise qualified voters from casting ballots.

Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, said an analysis of rejected provisional ballots in the May primary found 454 that would have been counted under the same circumstances in 2012…

Others were voters who cast provisional ballots in precincts other than their own. In 2012, those were counted as partial ballots if the voter was in his or her home county. Now, out-of-precinct ballots are not allowed in most cases…

Lawmakers who backed the election law changes say they’re needed to make voting more efficient and prevent voter fraud.

But the groups suing to stop the Republican-penned changes argue they’re intended to make it harder for low-income, minority, student and elderly voters – groups that traditionally vote Democratic – to cast ballots.

Hall said his analysis of the rejected provisional ballots bears that out. While black voters make up just 22 percent of the state’s electorate, they accounted for 39 percent of the rejected ballots. Fifty-seven percent of the ballots were cast by registered Democrats, who make up only 42 percent of North Carolina voters.

“It proves, really, what has been said about the discriminatory nature of the new law,” Hall said, noting that the people affected include a veteran, students and even a precinct judge.

If you think the intent of the law was to make voting more efficient and prevent fraud, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.  Sure, this is a relatively small number of disenfranchised voter, but this analysis was based on a very low turnout election.  So, when people talk about preventing those unicorn-like cases of in-person voter fraud, here’s the cost– real voters, not unicorns, are being disenfranchised.

And dare I say any party/ideology which thinks a key to its success is shrinking the electorate is neither a confident nor healthy party.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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