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End of same day registration could spell trouble for Democrats

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At 47 pages long, House Bill 589, the so-called "Voter ID" bill, has much more to it than that.

In fact there's so much to it, a Duke University professor thinks if it were law back in 2008, President Obama might have very well lost North Carolina to John McCain.

Duke University Public Policy professor and Obama supporter, Don Taylor, says the new requirement that in-person voters present a photo ID to vote is not what he's most concerned about. He says the end of same-day registration could be an even bigger blow to Democrats in the 2016 presidential and gubernatorial elections.

"Really, I think some of the worst provisions, in terms of making it harder for people to vote are not actually voter ID," Taylor said.  "This is a voting provision, or a way to vote that was heavily used by the Democratic Party, the Obama campaign in both the 2008 and 2012 elections."

Taylor's analysis of 2012 Durham County voting data shows that out of 147,000 votes cast, more than 4,700 were same-day registration voters.  President Obama won 75 percent of Durham voters last year.  Still, Mitt Romney won the state by more than 90,000 votes, four years after Obama won by just 14,000 votes.  In a tight election, every last vote counts.

Taylor says the bill is "systematically going to make it harder for low probability voters to vote."

A conservative policy analyst we spoke with conceded as much.

"Politics always enters into this. It would be silly to say that there's no political element to this," Mitch Kokai with the conservative John Locke Foundation said.

Despite political motivations, Kokai does say Republicans had legitimate concerns about protecting the integrity of the state's elections in tightening the number of days allowed for early voting and ending same-day registration.

"It just seems like when you have the same day registration, there's not a lag between registering and voting, that there's a lot of possibility for abuse," Kokai said.

He also says Republicans wanted to get more in line with neighboring states.

"North Carolina really stood out in this region in terms of the liberal nature of its ballot access and election laws. Virginia (doesn't) have early voting at all," Kokai said.

Taylor says there's little excuse for making it harder for people to vote. He hopes the changes will just energize Democrats in the 2014 midterm elections.

"What we've got to do is we've got to work very hard," Taylor said, "and take something that was designed to make it harder for people to vote and use it to organize."

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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