The GOP hypocrisy on this election fraud is astounding. Republicans want to pass a voter ID law making it harder for eligible voters to cast their ballots, while they are also trying to block a fair investigation into Bladen and Robeson County’s absentee ballots. If lawmakers were really concerned about the integrity of elections, they would join the call for new elections and a full investigation into the electoral fraud in these counties.
Election experts say in-person voter fraud—in which an individual arrives at the polls and votes as someone else, or as a duplicate—is extremely rare. It’s more common that poll workers commit fraud, or that there’s some sort of organized action like what’s alleged in Bladen County.
Nonetheless, Republicans have pushed hard for laws that require citizens to show a photo ID to vote, both nationally and in North Carolina. Critics say that such laws disproportionately affect groups that vote Democratic, including the poor, minorities, and young people, who are less likely to hold photo IDs.
In 2013, just after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated portions of the Voting Rights Act, the North Carolina General Assembly passed one of the strictest voting laws in the nation, which not only required photo ID but also curtailed early voting, among several other measures. The law was loosened slightly in 2015. In 2016, a federal appeals court deemed the law unconstitutional.
“In what comes as close to a smoking gun as we are likely to see in modern times, the State’s very justification for a challenged statute hinges explicitly on race—specifically its concern that African Americans, who had overwhelmingly voted for Democrats, had too much access to the franchise,” Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote.
But Republicans in the General Assembly placed a measure on the ballot this November asking voters to approve an amendment to the state constitution that would require photo ID to vote. Voters approved the measure, and now lawmakers are writing the law—doing so during the lame-duck session, when Republicans still hold a veto-proof supermajority in the legislature.
The bill is modeled heavily on a voter-ID law in South Carolina. In 2012, while serving on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, newly seated Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a decision upholding that law.
Voting-rights advocates say the bill is an improvement over the 2013 and 2015 laws. To assuage concerns about access to photo IDs, it widens the range of valid IDs, allowing student IDs from some colleges and expired IDs in some cases. It also asks county boards of elections to issue photo IDs.
“It’s still a burden, but it probably won’t have a lot of impact,” Cohen said. “Any legitimate voter that’s prevented from voting is a bad thing, but on the scale, it’s not too bad.”
On Wednesday, amid the scrutiny of Bladen County, the state House added a provision to the bill that requires citizens to submit a photocopy of a photo ID or else to sign an affidavit saying they have a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining a photo ID when requesting an absentee vote. That provision might make schemes like the one alleged in Bladen County harder to execute, but it also might make it harder for legitimate absentee voters to cast a ballot. A version of the bill passed the Senate last week.
North Carolina Republicans say they want an investigation, but in the meantime, they are clamoring for the NCSBE to certify Harris’s election and send him to Washington. After years of Republicans insisting there’s rampant election fraud in North Carolina and accusing Democrats of indifference or complicity, there’s finally a case that looks like real, outcome-changing election fraud. It just so happens that it’s alleged to have benefited a Republican. Suddenly, the North Carolina GOP is less concerned about the effects of fraud.