Let’s all vote on the issue of NC voter ID!

June 5, 2018 (Raleigh)–While the entire nation watched a federal lawsuit against North Carolina’s voter ID law two years ago, nobody much talked about the wolf just outside the federal courtroom’s door and it’s high time the legislature neutered that critter before he hurts somebody.

Most scholars and political players agree that the main reason that North Carolina’s voter ID law was successfully killed by the 4th District Appellate Court in Richmond was the untimely death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. SCOTUS voting tendencies suggested that had Scalia not died, the court would have upheld NC’s law by a 5-4 majority.

While patriotic citizens all across the country would have been giving each other high fives over such a ruling, very few would have worried about the nagging little state court trial which was on hold until after the federal lawsuit had run its course.

Every person born in the United States and every person who has been naturalized, 18 years of age, and possessing the qualifications set out in this Article, shall be entitled to vote at any election by the people of the State, except as herein otherwise provided. NC Constitution Article VI, Section 1

At issue was whether or not requiring voters to prove their identity would have illegally extended the qualification allowing North Carolina citizens to vote, as outlined under Article VI, Section 1 of the NC Constitution. Nobody viewed it as anything bigger than a cuddly wolf cub at the time, because the final backstop (the NC Supreme Court) was controlled by rational judges.

Worst case was if the presiding judge at the time, a Democrat named Michael Morgan, decided to make his mark in history by killing the voter ID law. He then could have shored up his base and scolded the Republicans for converting Jim Crow from a D to an R or something.  He even could have wrapped himself in the NC Constitution and raised a ton of money for his next election.

But just as kittens grow up to be cats, wolf cubs always turn into dangerous animals.

In 2016 Judge Michale Morgan became Justice Michael Morgan after he won a seat on the NC Supreme Court. Now, it wasn’t just any seat. When it suits their purposes, Judges like to call themselves “nonpartisan,” but that’s only an illusion. These folks can be downright tribal at times.

Given that backdrop, people have been asking me why the Republican Legislature doesn’t introduce a new voter ID law. The last one was killed at the SCOTUS level “without prejudice” and that means our lawmakers could try again if they wanted.

Since then, that same court let stand a Texas voter ID law that was modeled after the North Carolina law, which had been modified to copy the South Carolina law that had already passed the muster.



“Confused, you will be” ~ Yoda

The bottom line is that every state that wants a voter ID law can now get one. It will easily pass through the courts, as long as it matches the language of the Texas voter ID law…that NC copied from SC. Oh nevermind.

The presumption is that NC would join that parade too…but not so fast! 

Justice Morgan won a “swing seat” on the Court, meaning the 4-3 Republican majority has now become a 4-3 Democrat majority. When push comes to shove, those four Democrat judges would take joy in letting their partisan flag fly proudly. They would kill voter ID on constitutional grounds and get away with it.

Then, the Legislature would have to pass a bill to allow voters to vote on a constitutional amendment to include voter ID in that document. Such a process would add another two years to a process the Democrats have fought since 2011.

If they can stall it long enough, they could probably regain control of the legislature and really kill any hope of North Carolina ever having honest elections…but I digress.

The bottom line is that the voters of North Carolina need to have the chance to weigh in on voter ID now and the General Assembly can make that happen. All they need to do is pass a law that will put the question on the ballot as an amendment to the state constitution.

And by the way, Article II, Section 22 of that same Constitution has a nifty feature in it: The Governor can’t veto it.

We strongly urge North Carolina’s 2017-2018 General Assembly to seize the initiative and put a voter ID constitutional amendment on this November’s ballot.

~ jd