Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday vetoed the Voter ID amendment, drawing the ire of conservative critics.
The amendment to the state constitution, which would require a photo ID to vote, was on the November ballot and passed with an 11 percent majority. The number of Richmond County voters approving the measure was 23 percent higher than that of those against it.
Cooper said that requiring an ID to vote was a “solution in search of a problem.”
“Instead, the real election problem is votes harvested illegally through absentee ballots, which this proposal fails to fix,” he added, referencing the current controversy surrounding the 9th Congressional District race between Mark Harris, Dan McCready and Jeff Scott.
The Democratic governor went on to say that the bill creates voting barriers “that will trap honest voters in confusion and discourage them with new rules, some of which haven’t even been written yet.
Cooper concluded his statement saying the bill had “sinister origins” and was designed to suppress the voting rights of minorities and the elderly and the poor.
“The cost of disenfranchising those voters or any citizens is too high, and the risk of taking away the fundamental right to vote is too great, for this law to take effect,” he said.
Lt. Gov Dan Forest, a Republican, criticized Cooper for his decision.
“Having identification is not only necessary to be an active member of our society, it is constitutionally required to vote, as determined by a majority of North Carolinians,” he said in a statement. “To put partisanship ahead of common sense is not only bad for our state, it is not the leadership our state needs. I hope our General Assembly will swiftly override this veto to ensure our state’s constitution is upheld.”
House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, also responded saying the governor is “choosing to ignore the will of the people” and that legislators will override the veto.
According to Moore’s office, more than 30 states in the U.S. have some form of Voter ID law.
Not all Democrats in the General Assembly feel the same way as the governor.
State Rep. Ken Goodman, D-Richmond, said he voted for the bill and, if he’s in session when it comes up, “may be consistent” and go along with the override.
“Anybody that’s motivated to vote will be able to vote under this bill,” he said Monday afternoon.
Goodman added that if “they’d written a tough bill and made it hard to get an ID like the one in 2013,” he probably would have voted differently.
The amendment calls for providing county boards of elections with equipment to print out free voter ID cards upon request.
Other forms of identification accepted to vote include a state-issued driver’s license, a non-driver state-issued ID card, a tribal enrollment card, a student ID card and a government employee badge.
There are also exemptions that allow a voter without an ID to fill out a provisional ballot.
According to the office of state Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, that chamber will vote to override the veto on Tuesday.
Goodman said the vote in the state House of Representatives should be the following day.