No, North Carolina (and Texas and Tennessee and South Carolina) Photo ID voting restrictions are NOT the same as those 'in 34 other states'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/21/2015, 9:35pm PT  

Recently, North Carolina opinion columnist and NC Insider editor Patrick Gannon misinformed readers of the Asheville Citizen-Times by telling them that the anti-voting law passed by Republicans after they took over the statehouse in 2013 --- a law which we (and others) have described as "the nation's worst voter suppression law since the Jim Crow era" --- isn't actually so bad.

"In many ways," apologist Gannon writes, the bill simply "put North Carolina more on par with other states."

He argues, as if it's a good thing, that while NC "once had among the least restrictive --- or more voter-friendly --- sets of election laws...That is no longer true." So, less "voter-friendly" is just fine by him, it seems.

Gannon offers justification for each of the key restrictions that now hamstring NC's once rather progressive and, yes, voter-friendly election laws, by arguing that the GOP's changes do little more than put the state back in line with voting laws in other states "including Texas and South Carolina." Again, as if that's a good thing.

But a Citizen-Times letter writer, in response, offers a key clarification to one of the most egregious bits of misinformation offered by Gannon --- one frequently parroted by Rightwing vote suppressors --- that the Photo ID restrictions passed as part of NC's new law are just like provisions for Voter IDs in "34 states that have passed voter identification requirements."

That, as letter writer Mike Burns accurately (if more politely) explains, is complete bullshit...

State columnist Patrick Gannon's assertion in the April 14 opinion piece, "North Carolina comes back to the pack on election laws," that North Carolina's 2013 regressive omnibus elections bill brings the state in line with national norms is inaccurate. To illustrate, the op-ed neglects the true negative effects of the new ID provisions. North Carolina is one of 34 states that have a voter identification requirement, but in reality it is one of four. Fifteen states have photo voter ID laws and only eight states have a "strict" photo voter ID law. Strict photo ID laws mean voters have no alternatives on Election Day or afterward but to present one of the required forms of photo ID; they cannot sign an affidavit or show multiple forms of non-photo ID. North Carolina will join only three other states, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, that have strict photo ID laws and exclude college student IDs from the list of acceptable voter ID. This narrow list makes North Carolina a rarity rather than the norm. North Carolina simply cannot be included with the majority of states when it comes to voter ID laws.

Mike Burns, Washington, D.C.
Burns is national director, Campus Vote Project

NC's Photo ID restriction is extreme. Gannon either knows that and is lying about it, or doesn't and is happy to be conned. The Citizen-Times --- and the NC Insider, where the same column also ran --- should clarify the inaccurate and misleading column.

I'll add here that Democrats and voting rights advocates also have themselves to blame for this. Despite my long advocacy on this point, they continue to refer to restrictive polling place voting restrictions like those enacted in North Carolina, as simply "Voter ID laws". Using that terminology, rather than something like "polling place Photo ID restrictions", gives the impression that strict Photo ID laws are no different than the many "common sense" laws in the majority of states which already require ID when voting. The average Joe, therefore, doesn't even understand that it's a different matter altogether to require, as most states do, one of dozens of different types of IDs when voting and/or allowing the voter to sign an affidavit before voting if they do not have one of those many types of allowable IDs.

It's another thing entirely to disallow a ballot from being counted and allowing a right to be lost forever, even when a voter is otherwise able to verifiably identify him or herself, simply because they don't have one of the (purposely) very few types of ID now required under draconian Republican laws like NC's.

To get an idea, check out just a few of the otherwise perfectly legal voters who were denied their right to vote under Texas' strict new polling place Photo ID restriction last November, including the 85-year old lady who had voted without problem for decades until TX Republicans instituted their draconian polling place Photo ID restriction. She doesn't drive anymore, so her expired TX drivers license didn't allow her to vote last year. Or, in the same story, the 68-year old lady who also no longer drives and who wasn't allowed to vote even after showing her military survivor's Photo ID.

If one refers to all "Voter ID" laws similarly, even when they are not, its little wonder that lazy or duplicitous opinion columnists like Patrick Gannon are able to pawn off such misleading disinformation to the public.

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