Republicans Include Absentee Ballot Security in Voter ID Bill, Democrats Still Vote Against

A sample ballot for North Carolina's House District 50 is seen in a photo illustration as early voting for the 2016 general elections begins in the state, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, U.S. October 20, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

RALEIGH – While the N.C. General Assembly has been introducing, adjusting, and voting on legislation to implement the Voter ID Constitutional Amendment, a barn fire has been raging in the 9th Congressional District fueled by apparent fraud in absentee ballots. Democrats were quick to point out that in-person ID requirements to vote did nothing to prevent absentee ballot fraud, but the most recent edition of the Voter ID DOES include measures to further secure absentee ballot security.

That bill, as of Thursday morning, has officially passed both chambers of the legislature, and now heads to the governor.

The absentee ballot amendment requires the State Board of Elections to implement rules for verifying absentee ballots in a more secure manner consistent with in-person photo ID requirements, including the option to complete an affidavit asserting a reasonable impediment to obtaining a qualifying identification.

The bill requires the state elections board to establish temporary voter ID rules for absentee ballots by July 2019 and permanent rules by January 2020.

So after all of the Democrats’ hullabaloo about absentee voting (which is definitely a mess that needs cleaning up), did Democrats sign on to support the amended bill that directly addressed such concerns? Unsurprisingly, no, they did not.

Only two House Democrats voted for the legislation. One was Rep. Duane Hall (D-Wake), who has no warm feelings for his caucus or the governor after they jumped at the chance to throw him under the bus in the face of sexual harassment allegations.

The other is Rep. Ken Goodman (D-Rockingham). Goodman is not from the social justice wing of the party. He was one of a few Democrats to originally support the notorious House Bill 2, and skews conservative on social issues. He is a prime example of the few moderate Democrats that will prove to be keystones in any Republican efforts for veto-proof legislation in next year’s session.

Notably, the original 2013 Voter ID law, which Democrats screamed ‘Racism!’ over and subsequently sued to successfully block its implementation, included protections for absentee ballots that would have dramatically reduced opportunities for fraud.

In 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly made standardized absentee ballot applications available online while adding requirements that voters include the last four digits of their social security number or driver’s license number on the application.

The 2013 law required either two witness signatures or a notarization for completed absentee ballots to be accepted by North Carolina elections officials.

Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) is the point man in the House for elections issues, points out that including the amendment in the Voter ID bill is a necessary first step to make sure the 9th District saga does not repeat itself:

“The situation occurring in southeastern North Carolina right now is an embarrassment and an impediment to the integrity of our entire elections system. I believe that this bill does start, it’s an important first step, in making sure problems like that don’t arise again.”

“It provides for a smooth roll out of an improved system of verifying that votes by mail are in-fact cast by folks who asked for and have been sent the ballot.”

Even though the 9th District vote fraud controversy is a big pie in the face of Republicans, who have for years pushed for more elections integrity and now are dealing with the fall out of apparent fraud on behalf of a Republican congressional campaign, they are also the only ones putting forth action items to do anything about it.

What are Democrats doing? Using the opportunity as a fundraiser and contributing nothing in the form of solutions. That’s probably because they realize that Democrats have likely benefited from vote fraud, like that which has been discovered in the 9th District, more than anyone. They will use talking points about integrity until they’re blue in the face, but the blue parts of the Old North State don’t seem to want anything to do with concrete steps that actually achieve the ends they rhetorically claim to support.

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