Dozens of North Carolinians stepped up to the microphone at a public hearing yesterday to lambast a proposal that sounds too reminiscent of the old poll tax and literacy test that kept their parents and grandparents from voting. On the other hand, the photo ID proposal is common sense to many whites with little understanding of the history of race-based voter suppression in North Carolina; for some it’s a desperate answer to their fears that they are losing control of their culture. If you listen to the video broadcasts of the public hearing (first part here, second part here), you’ll appreciate the emotional energy involved in this debate.
Today, a panel of five “election experts” (including Democracy NC’s Bob Hall) gave more testimony for and against a harsh ID proposal – the video of their testimony is here. The real experts were among the people who testified the night before – those who work in the precincts, who work with the homeless and poor, who educate voters about their rights, who lived through Jim Crow discrimination, and whose forebears sacrificed so much to make the promise of democracy real for their children.