Daily Beast's Bouie Repeats Faulty, Tired Talking Points About North Carolina's Voter ID Law

In his August 13 story, "North Carolina's Attack on Voting Rights," the Daily Beast's Jamelle Bouie insults his readers' intelligence with tired, discredited left-wing talking points about the new North Carolina voter ID law.

Let's take a look at a few of them below. First there's the Republicans-are-disenfranchising-college-voters meme, which is my personal favorite:


The centerpiece of the law is a strict new mandate for voter identification, that’s more notable for what it bans than what it permits. Of the various forms of state-issued ID, only four are valid for voting: driver’s licenses, passports, veteran’s IDs, and tribal cards. Everything else is unacceptable. This includes college IDs, public or municipal employee IDs, ID from public-assistance agencies, and out-of-state driver’s licenses.

It’s no accident that those are the excluded categories. As with similar laws in other states, the restrictions target Democratic voters, from students and young people—who are more likely to rely on university-issued identification—to public employees and the poor. And of course, a large share of these voters are black and Latino. Overall, the state estimates that as many as 318,000 voters could lack (PDF) appropriate identification.

More on the 318,000 number in a bit, but first, it's patently ludicrous to say that college students in North Carolina would be disenfranchised because they only have student IDs. In fact, at many colleges and universities in the Tar Heel state, you NEED a valid government-issued ID in order to obtain (or get a replacement) student ID card. That's true at UNC, East Carolina University, and Elon University, for example.

As for out-of-state driver's licenses, to borrow from John McEnroe, he cannot be serious! It's pretty obvious why out-of-state licenses are not acceptable: you can't vote in North Carolina if you're not a resident of the state. Producing an out-of-state license strongly suggests, well, that one is still a resident of the state issuing the license.

What about the 318,000 voters who supposedly lack "appropriate identification"? Well, according to the very item Bouie linked to, it's more like a little over 203,000 and "it is not known how many" of them "may possess another accepted form" of voter ID (emphasis mine):

4. Of the 318,643 registered voters which did not match DMV records, 115,291 were found to have not voted in the last five election cycles. Subtracting these voters based on inactivity yields 203,352 active registered voters without confirmed issuance of identification by DMV.


5. Accordingly, a range of 203,352–318,643 is assumed for the pool of current registered voters without a match between the SEIMS and SADLS databases. This range does not necessarily represent the number of registered voters without an appropriate form of photo identification; it is not known how many of these individuals may possess another accepted form.

Earlier in that very same document, an official "legislative fiscal note" on North Carolina General Assembly letterhead notes that the new voter ID law provides, free-of-charge, photo IDs to qualifying applicants:

HB 589 allows an eligible voter without one of the
accepted forms of photo identification to obtain
a non-operator special identification card for non-operators from the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) free-of-charge, provided that the voter signs a declaration that he or she does not have an alternate form of identification as required by G.S. 163-166.13.

Curiously, Bouie failed to mention that crucial fact, as well as the fact that the new law does NOT require photo ID for voting absentee. Any North Carolinian voter can vote absentee and it's relatively simple to do so, by mailing, faxing or emailing a scanned version of a ballot request form

Given all those facts, it's patently ridiculous to charge that if the law is not struck down in federal court that "North Carolinians will have to live in a state that doesn’t respect their right to participate" in the electoral process.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters