State Representative Ken Goodman, of Rockingham, filed a bill Wednesday in the State House to ensure that no registered, legal voters are turned away from the polls because of a lack of identification.
A statement released by Goodman, who represents District 66, said his bill is a reasonable alternative to “extreme Voter ID bills” that have been filed in the past. Those bills “unfairly disenfranchise registered, active voters who lack photo ID, including the elderly, people in rural areas, and certain minority populations,” the statement said.
The new bill, entitled Voter Protection and Integrity Act, would guarantee “that no registered voter is denied the right to vote at an approved polling site; and to prevent the unauthorized use of a registered voter’s voting privilege through the fraudulent misuse of a registered voter’s identity.”
“No citizen’s right to vote should be denied due to the lack of a photo ID. At the same time, we must ensure an honest election process. This bill protects both the voters and the integrity of their votes. The survival of our Democracy depends on both,” said Goodman.
Goodman said that the difference between this bill and other bills are that this bill says that if the voter does not have an official N.C. issued identification card, a picture can be taken by a designated election official and a photo affidavit can be signed by the voter.
“The signed photo affidavit shall remain on file in digital format at the county board of elections office for a period of time to be determined by the State Board of Elections and shall be included in the State voter file,” the bill said.
Goodman said putting the picture into a database will “guarantee no one who is eligible will be turned away,” and the bill will also eliminate provisional ballots and voter fraud. “People aren’t going to go get their picture made and sign an affidavit saying it’s them, if it isn’t,” he said.
Connie Kelly, executive director for the Richmond County Board of Elections, said there will have to be some fine tuning done to any Voter ID bill before any changes are implemented.
“I’m fine with whatever we are told to do. Whatever the law is, as long as they make it clear on how to implement it, so we can budget,” Kelly said.
Goodman said that there are currently 600,000 eligible voters in N.C. that do not have an ID to go and vote.
According to Goodman the bill is also less expensive than other Voter ID bills. “According to the NC Fiscal Research Division, the bill would cost slightly over $3 million. I’ve seen estimates on other Voter ID bills run way up in the money,” he said.
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.