State Rep. Ken Goodman said that several key modifications to the Voter ID bill that passed the North Carolina House last week inspired him to split ranks from most in his party to support the bill.
Goodman, who represents parts of Scotland, Richmond, Robeson, Hoke and Montgomery counties, said that the proposed legislation “moved from very restrictive to something not very restrictive,” making it at least palatable to him and a several other Democrats.
“It’s not exactly the bill that I would’ve created … I would’ve been just as happy if there was no bill, but according to polls 75 percent of people think there should be,” Goodman said.
Provisions allowing for the use of expired licenses for 10 years and for those older than 70-years-old and for the use of tribal identification and student IDs from public universities all contributed to Goodman’s decision to vote in support of the bill.
“And the big thing for me that really made it acceptable is that it is not going to be implemented until 2016. Before then there will be a very intentional voter education effort for people without IDs,” Goodman said.
According to Goodman, the bill’s most important features require voters to be informed at the polls both in 2014 and 2015 that they will need an ID in order to vote in 2016.
The bill also provides for those who would not otherwise be able to afford an ID to acquire one for free — a feature that Goodman said will have positive effects outside of voter fraud prevention.
“Anybody motivated at all to vote in three years can get one. And now it’s almost impossible to function in society without a picture ID. You can’t buy Sudafed, you can’t cash checks — so this will benefit in ways we may not even be aware of at this point,” Goodman explained.
“All those things considered made me decide it was the best bill we could get. It was a compromise, and people want us to compromise,” he said.
Asked if he thinks voter fraud is a problem that needed to be addressed, Goodman said that he doesn’t think it’s a huge issue. “But a lot of people do,” he added.
For years some of those same people, Goodman said, have accused Democrats of “hauling people to the polls and having them vote four or five times.”
“They’ve been saying that Democrats cheat. This will take that issue off the table — that elections aren’t credible. I think they are, and this will give people confidence in them.”
Outside of polling data, Goodman said that to his surprise he received very little feedback from constituents on the matter.
“I get e-mail on all kinds of issues, but I didn’t get a single e-mail or phone call before this vote, either pro or con. I was very surprised by that.”
While the bill may ease the minds of those concerned about voter fraud, Goodman said that he did not think it would be a surefire measure.
“If people want to cheat, they’ll figure out a way to do it. This makes it a little harder to do. But it will give the public confidence that their election was legitimate, even though I don’t think there was any big problem to begin with,” Goodman said.
The House version of the bill will now move to the Senate, where it may undergo changes that Goodman said could make him change his mind about supporting the proposed legislation.
“If they take it and take out some of the provisions I mentioned then I probably won’t cast a concurring vote,” he said.
Goodman introduced a bill early last year that he said would have solved the problem more simply.
“With technology the way it is and with computers, anyone who didn’t have an ID at the poll could let the poll worker take their photograph, record it on a database, let the voter sign an affidavit affirming that they are who they say they are, and the problem is solved,” he said.
The bill was introduced by Goodman in the House and in the other chamber by Sen. Ben Clark of Hoke County. The proposal failed to garner enough support to reach the floor for a vote.
Goodman has questioned the Republican-controlled legislature’s priorities in recent months, suggesting that it has become distracted from what is most important by debates like the one about Voter ID.
“In the end, this was something we needed to get beyond so that we can get back to working on jobs and economic development … We need to put this one behind us,” he said.
Laurinburg Exchange|Civitas Media