In the midst of the ever-growing vortex of election fraud emanating from absentee-ballot shenanigans in North Carolina's Ninth Congressional District, the Republican-controlled state legislature has taken bold action: Thursday, the state Senate passed a voter-ID bill to prevent voters from impersonating someone else at the polls (the House passed it Wednesday). Voter ID wouldn't actually do anything to prevent the festival of absentee ballot frauding in NC 9, but it's something Rs have wanted to do for years. With the passage of a referendum calling for voter ID, and just a few weeks to go until the Rs lose their veto-proof supermajority following Democratic gains in the very same midterms, the GOP is in a hurry to put an ID law in place before power shifts and they can no longer override a veto from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who opposes voter ID. But don't worry! The Rs say they're very, very concerned about the mail-in vote fraud question, and even added a clause to their voter ID bill that "directs the state elections board next year to figure out how people requesting mail-in absentee ballots also must offer ID." Crisis averted!

Of course, there are still a few concerns about how voter ID will actually play out in North Carolina. Just after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, the state legislature passed a sweeping set of measures rolling back early voting and same-day registration, and imposing strict ID requirements, among all sorts of neat measures designed to reduce the threat of Democrats voting. That shitbag of wickedness was eventually declared unconstitutional by a federal court in 2016 because, as the judge wrote, "the new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision," and the Supremes upheld the decision in 2017.

This new voter ID law is a smidge less prohibitive, allowing several forms of photo ID the 2013 law didn't. Voters can prove their identity at the polls with any of the following:

Driver licenses, passports, military and veteran IDs, tribal enrollment cards, college IDs, state ID cards issued to non-drivers, state and municipal employee IDs, and a new type of ID issued by local boards of election could be used.

Not surprisingly, that list was WAY TOO FRAUD-FRIENDLY for some Republicans, although only one, state Rep. Jonathan Jordan, actually voted against the bill. The R's were especially angry that college IDs can be used to vote, because after all, too may young folks vote for Democrats after being indoctrinated by their liberal professors. Another Republican, state Rep. Michael Speciale, showed off a fake Wake Forrest University ID he'd gotten, to prove elections are not adequately protected from Democrats trying to drink underage.

For his part, Jordan would far prefer voting be restricted to those with DMV-issued ID's, military IDs, and passports, because how about all that in-person fraud that Republicans just know is rampant but can never seem to find proof of?

Just to be a big party pooper, the Raleigh News & Observer pointed out,

An audit of 4.8 million votes cast in the 2016 general election found one case of voter impersonation that could have been caught with voter ID.

But surely that's well worth making voting a lot harder, isn't it?

Apart from the vague directive to make the state board of elections come up with a way to force voters to provide ID for mail-in ballots, the new bill won't do a thing to address schemes like the one in all the headlines this week. But it's imperative to stop individual voter fraud that isn't happening before tackling the real, GOP-run election fraud that is happening. The bill was sent to Cooper, so he can veto it and the Lege can override the veto quicklike while it's still possible to do so.

As for the absentee ballot fraud that appears to have been master-"minded" by grifty convicted felon Leslie McCrae Dowless in Mark Harris's primary and general elections this year, it's worth noting that several steps in the scam are already felonies in North Carolina, like collecting absentee ballots from voters (only a close relative of the voter is allowed), not to mention writing in votes on unsealed ballots or destroying completed ballots. But Republicans seemed perfectly happy to look the other way for years. It was mostly black voters having their votes stolen, and hey, Dowless got results -- if you paid him well.

It was such a shoddy two-bit scheme that as soon as reporters started looking closely at it, the whole thing started coming apart, with even Dowless's "get out the vote" (wink-wink, nudge nudge) workers cheerfully telling all about how it worked, although they mostly insist they had no idea Dowless had enlisted them to do something illegal.

But instead of taking action to crack down on operators of absentee vote mills like Dowless, North Carolina Republicans want to impose ID requirements on individual voters, who didn't perpetrate any fraud in any of the elections Dowless tried to rig. Over 1500 people in two counties, many of them minorities, requested absentee ballots, but those ballots were never returned to be counted. Seems kind of stupid to punish the people whose votes were literally stolen, and to make voting by mail harder for those who did nothing wrong.

Which is why North Carolina Republicans think that's just a dandy solution.

[News & Observer / The State / NC Policy Watch / Ari Berman on Twitter]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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