Overflow crowd in attendance for voter ID hearing - WNCN: News, Weather

Overflow crowd in attendance for voter ID hearing

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

North Carolina residents spoke out on one of the biggest changes proposed to the state's election laws in decades. 

An overflow crowd came out to a public hearing on implementing a photo ID requirement to vote in state elections.  The House Committee on Elections held the hearing before moving forward on a bill to implement the requirement.

The hearing is a part of a process put forth by Republicans to give all sides a chance to contribute to a bill they hope is soon passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory.

However, North Carolina's NAACP is not mincing words on the proposal.  Speaking in front of the committee room, the chapter's president, the Rev. William Barber, called it a "poll tax," likening the measure to tactics used decades ago to discourage African Americans from voting. 

Another speaker poked fun at the proposal, asking members of the House and Senate to present their own birth certificates, social security cards and other documents "by noon tomorrow" to prove they are eligible to serve.

Jay Delancy, the founder of North Carolina's Voter Integrity Project, said efforts to block or weaken a new voter ID requirement were part of a "vast left-wing conspiracy" to pad the voter rolls with non-citizens.

The President of AARP North Carolina cautioned voter ID could disenfranchise the elderly.

"Just imagine that you're 80 years old," Diana Hatch said.  "You've been going to your local polling place for half a century and suddenly you're asked to prove who you are with a government-issued photo ID."

But Carol Marino of Holly Springs, who also attended the meeting, disagrees.

"My mother died at the age of 97 and she always voted, but she voted absentee," Marino said, "so I don't understand people who have to be dragged to the polls to vote."

GOP legislators passed a photo ID requirement in 2011 but it was vetoed by Gov. Beverly Perdue.

Supporters say the public wants the requirement to discourage voter fraud. 

An Elon University poll conducted in February showed 72 percent of voters in the state supported the move, including 53 percent of Democrats and 93 percent of Republicans. 

Civil rights groups counter the right to vote should not be subject to public opinion.

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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