A survey by an independent polling firm adds new insights into how North Carolinians view a proposed photo ID requirement for voters. The poll by SurveyUSA indicates that 75% of NC voters favor a photo ID bill, but only a third think passing it should be a high priority. Also, 70% say a registered voter should not be turned away if she signs an attestation and provides a verifiable identifying number, such as a date of birth or Social Security number. House Bill 589 does not include this back-up option. It lets voters without a photo ID cast a provisional ballot, but the ballot won’t count unless the voter returns after Election Day and shows officials a government photo ID.
When specific groups are listed that will face difficulty because of a photo ID law, support drops down to 54%. The sustained support hinges in part of the firm belief of 40% of NC voters that voter impersonation at the polls in “commonplace,” despite evidence to the contrary. As ALEC and conservative leaders know, if you cry “voter fraud” enough, people will begin to believe you.
The poll was commissioned by Democracy NC and the League of Women Voters of NC. “The current ID bill is being sold as a way to improve confidence in our elections, but it includes features that voters recognize as unreasonably harsh,” said Jo Nicholas, president of the League. “A large majority would allow a voter who takes an oath and provides a personal identifying number to cast a ballot,” she said. “That’s what the bill will require of a person who votes through the mail. Why would legislators put a heavier burden on voters who show their face to an election official?”