Voter ID

An article this weekend in the Winston-Salem Journal reported that as many as 613,000 voters in North Carolina may not have valid photo IDs.  That’s about 9% of all North Carolina voters.  Of course, then the article went on to talk about all the reasons that number may be hugely inflated.  They came up with that number by comparing the names on voter rolls with lists from the DMV, so there are problems with misspelled names, or women who are on one list under their maiden names and the other under their married names.

But just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the number’s correct, and there really are 613,000 voters who don’t have photo ID.  Would it be so difficult to get IDs to those people?

The article says that many of those without IDs are older people who no longer drive.  But the state will already issue an ID to anyone over 70 at no cost to the individual.  It’s paid for by taxpayers.  And the cost of a non-drivers license photo ID, which you can get at any DMV, is only $10.  I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that most of those 613,000 people could afford that.

But even if every single one of those 613,000 voters is really without a photo ID, and even if the taxpayers paid for each and every one of them to get an ID card, the total cost to the state’s taxpayers, at $10 per person, would only be around $6 million.

The North Carolina budget is round about $20 billion (and that doesn’t count another $30 billion or so that we get from the federal government), so the cost of all those voter IDs would be about 0.03% of the state’s general fund.  I’m pretty sure we could find some savings somewhere to cover that.

Whatever other reasons there may be for opposing voter ID, concerns about access and disenfranchisement just don’t hold water.

Julie Tisdale / City and County Policy Analyst

Julie Tisdale is City and County Policy Analyst at the John Locke Foundation. Before coming to the Locke Foundation as the research publications coordinator, she worked at the...

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