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State voter ID bill sparks renewed debate

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) - A new bill addressing the issue of whether photo ID's should be required in order to vote is sparking debate once again.

House Bill 1092 was filed in the House on June 7th. The bill would put the issue on the November ballot for the voters to decide on.

"I think that the country as a whole sees that there's fraud involved in voting," said Pitt County GOP Chairman Mark Stewart.

Stewart argues this is a way to cut down on voter fraud, which state officials didn't provide specific evidence of when filing the bill. Stewart said even those without a driver's license can go to the DMV and request a photo ID for voting free of charge.

"It would be great if instead of protesting everything the NAACP would get involved and work with legislature," he said.

But members of the NAACP and Democracy NC said obtaining a photo ID isn't their main issue.

"There's no such thing as a voter ID law that doesn't make it harder for people to vote," said Marques Thompson with Democracy NC.

Thompson argues the bill targets the wrong problem. He said removing barriers to allow more people to vote should be what lawmakers tackle. Instead, he said they're focusing on an issue that is very isolated.

"It's like trying to figure out how to stop toddlers from getting struck by lightning," Thompson said. "I'm sure somewhere there's a toddler being struck by lightning, but you don't put resources towards solving that problem because it's so small."

WNCT hit the streets Monday to ask voters their thoughts on the bill.

"I think it would probably be a benefit just because it would cut down on voter fraud," said Adriel Coello.

"I don't see any problem with it," said Will Smith. "You need a photo ID to do just about anything else."

Other said they don't think having an ID is necessary.

"It's not that serious," said Ayesha Stoddard. "It's just voting, so it should be like a signature or something."

Stoddard argued providing voters with an individualized pin number could cut down on voter fraud without requiring a photo ID.

The bill is set to gain widespread support among Republicans in the General Assembly. Pitt Co. Rep. Greg Murphy released a statement saying:

"The majority of Republicans AND Democrats support having a Voter ID requirement. I have heard arguments that some feel this discriminatory in nature. Perhaps in this discussion we should look at ways to ease those burdens and address those concerns. I support having elections that all citizens can have faith in and so I am supportive of this constitution amendment.”

Rep. John Bell (R) said a vote on the bill could be taken in the House as early as this week. 

If the proposition were to be approved by voters in November, it would be sent to the Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement for certification, before the amendment is then sent to the Secretary of State.

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