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Say ‘Goodby’ to NC Voter ID (Updated)

July 27, 2023 Update: With or without the contested “ignorance excuse,” the Reasonable Exception affidavit is still an invitation to vote without a photo ID. That said, the public outcry over our July 24 post (below) evidently had an impact! Last night, somebody forwarded an email to us dated July 25 (4:53 PM), from an SBE Elections Administration Manager named Parker Holland. It was addressed to all CBE Directors and said the following: 

We wanted to alert you that the In-Person Photo ID Exception Form is expected to change prior to the start of one-stop voting in the 2023 Municipal Elections.  
 
At its upcoming August 13, 2023 meeting, the State Board members intend to vote to modify the current in-person form by removing the language that says: “I did not know photo ID was required for voting.” The State Board does not intend to consider other changes to the form.  
 
While this change will not be formally effective until the revised form is adopted by the State Board on August 13, 2023, we are providing an updated copy of the In-Person Photo ID Exception Form today so that you will have as much time as possible to prepare to use the revised form. While the State Board office cannot release the updated changes to SEIMS before the State Board votes to adopt the updated form, we are taking the needed preparatory steps so that SEIMS can be updated promptly after August 13. We also recognize the urgent need for you to know what the form will look like after August 13th so an adequate number may be printed prior to the start of early voting.
 
Please let us know if you have questions or concerns. 

July 24, 2023–And just like that, North Carolina’s weakest-in-the-nation voter ID law became even weaker last Thursday, when ignorance of the law became a valid excuse to avoid showing a photo ID when voting.

The blunder happened when NC State Board of Elections  was presenting their “temporary rule change” to NC Administrative Code 08 NCAC 17 .0101, which contains the implementation rules for our state’s photo ID requirements in voting.

At issue was the SBE’s submission of their Reasonable Impediment affidavit, authorized in NCGS 163-166.16(e), which allows anyone to vote without showing a photo ID simply by signing a piece of paper claiming they don’t have an ID.

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Constitution

You may recall how, in 2018, more than 55% of NC’s voters approved an amendment to Article Six of the State Constitution which says the following:

(4) Photo identification for voting in person. Voters offering to vote in person shall present photographic identification before voting. The General Assembly shall enact general laws governing the requirements of such photographic identification, which may include exceptions. (2018-128, s. 1.) 

The Devil is in those pesky exceptions, because they have now completely negated the first part of the Amendment.

Click image to see entire affidavit.

 

Before the rule change was enacted July 20, North Carolina was in a tie for last place with other “Republican-controlled” states like South Carolina and Texas for having the most ridiculous voter ID laws in the nation. Now, thanks to the SBE’s latest con job, our fraud-friendly election laws stand alone. . . at the bottom.

Inside Wizardry

NCSBE Counsel Paul Cox hypnotizes NC’s Rules Review Commission

In order to  implement the Reasonable Impediment form, SBE Legal Counsel, Paul Cox, submitted a “temporary rule change” to the Rules Review Commission. His documentation made 11 references to the word, “affidavit,” but notably did not include the actual affidavit in their submission.

By not submitting it, he reasoned, the Commissioners were not allowed to review it. Are you still with me?

Then, by continually alluding to a provision of NC Administrative Procedures Act, which apparently protects the RRC from getting buried by vetting every form an agency might use, he intimidated the RRC from rejecting the rules, despite the new, ignorance-of-the-law excuse his agency created.

Another trick his agency used was to title the affidavit, a “Photo ID Exception Form,” and he constantly referred to it as a “form” during his oral arguments. This way, Cox was able to distract the RRC from the fact that it was the actual “affidavit,” mentioned in both the statute and his agency’s proposed rule change and it really needed to be reviewed by the Rules Review Commission (RRC).

Who Are Those Guys?

The Rules Review Commission consists of ten members, whose purpose is to make sure agencies follow the letter of any law that gets passed by the General Assembly. To keep things manageable, their laws usually delegate some of the details to the executive agency in charge of that area.

So, the RRC’s seemingly thankless task is to keep an eye on these agencies whenever they try to create new laws through by manipulating the NC Administrative Code to the Governor’s advantage.

Was William Peeslee outfoxed?

Perhaps wisely, the Commissioners are either attorneys or very studious types who don’t fall asleep while studying the minutiae of the law.

In addition to fooling those ten attorneys, who were all appointed by the Legislature, Cox also had to snooker the “Codifier” of the rules, who in this case, was RRC Counsel William Peeslee.

I attended the hearing and could tell how P-O’d the Commissioners were over the highly suspicious move, but Peaslee’s recommendation for acceptance seemed to take the fight out of several skeptical commissioners.

Despite my protestations to the contrary while addressing the Commission, they unanimously approved the changes.

Bottom Line

Unless our “veto-proof Republican Legislature” steps in and despite our constitutional language to the contrary, any stranger can walk into a polling place with no proof of identity and vote by simply checking a block that says “I did not know photo ID was required for voting.”

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