DALTON “OPEN” TO LESSER
FORM OF VOTER I.D.
By Cash Michaels
[published in The Carolinian Newspaper 10-4-2012]
Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton is adamantly opposed to photo and government-issued voter identification, his gubernatorial campaign says. He sees them as attempts at voter suppression, and if elected, Dalton would veto such as his “line in the sand.
Indeed, Dalton’s campaign spokesman, Schorr Johnson, told the Daily Tar Heel newspaper on Sept. 12th, “Dalton does not support a state voter ID law due to exaggerated statistics about voter fraud.”
“ Voter ID laws are a solution in search of a problem,” Johnson concluded.
The lieutenant governor even repeated the same line during his Oct. 3rd debate with Republican opponent Pat McCrory.
The lieutenant governor even repeated the same line during his Oct. 3rd debate with Republican opponent Pat McCrory.
But if elected governor, Dalton, a moderate Democrat, admits he would be “open,” Johnson told The Carolinian this week, to a compromise measure with the Republican-led NC General Assembly, requiring some form of non-governmental voter identification in order to cast a ballot.
“He is open to supporting some form of identification (such as a utility bill and multiple other forms), similar to [the] current law for registering to vote,” Johnson wrote in an email reply for comment.
Though less restrictive than what state Republican leaders really have in mind, black leaders say they’re opposed to any unnecessary barrier between the voter, and the ballot.
“Voter ID in any form is a Trojan horse backdoor effort to voter suppression,” Rev. William Barber, president of the NC NAACP, said in response to Dalton’s stated willingness to compromise. “We should be identifying a progressive vision for our future as a state rather than trying to find ways to ID voters that have already been qualified to vote.”
So why is Dalton willing to horse-trade on a sensitive issue like voter ID at the same time he’s trying to attract as many black votes as he can get?
Being at least 12 points behind Republican gubernatorial opponent Pat McCrory, the former mayor of Charlotte who says he would sign a voter photo ID bill into law if elected, could be one reason.
And paying close attention to polls that have consistently shown a considerable majority of North Carolinians being for voter ID, could be another.
The most recent WRAL-TV poll, released just this week, shows that 69 percent of those surveyed agreed that some sort of certifiable voter identification should be required at the polls when casting a ballot, with more Republicans than Democrats agreeing.
That poll flies in the face of the current official position of the NC Democratic Party (NCDP).
According to the NCDP 2012 Platform under “Fair and Open Elections and a Strong Party,” under “Voting Rights” the party’s position clearly states, “…We (the NCDP) oppose laws that require identification in order to vote or register to vote, which create discriminatory barriers to the right to vote and disenfranchise many eligible voters.”
During its state convention last summer, delegates passed Resolution #61, which stated in part, “Voter fraud is nearly non-existent in the State of North Carolina” and “North Carolina elections have adequate safeguards against fraud, and function in a way that promotes confidence in the accuracy of their results.”
When asked if the NCDP was “flexible” on voter ID, just as long as it did not involve photo or government identification, Walton Robinson, NCDP Communications Director replied, “The NCDP Platform position on Voter ID is the official position of the party. Our first priority is stopping any efforts to suppress or obstruct the voting rights of Americans. Period.”
“Beyond that,” Robinson continued, “…we are encouraged that the courts have, thus far, stuck these laws down in other states,” referring to recent rulings striking down or changing voter ID laws in Florida, Texas, Iowa, New Hampshire, and just this week, Pennsylvania.
The Carolinian checked with the Obama campaign and asked the same questions amid rumors that the president may also be “flexible” on voter ID.
Ironically, there is very little showing President Obama publicly stating any position on the topic, thought his White House is on record on August 30, 2012 as saying, “…this administration believes it should be easier for eligible citizens to vote -- to register and vote. We should not be imposing unnecessary obstacles or barriers to voter participation.”
And yet the Democratic candidate for North Carolina governor says he’s “open” to a limited form of voter ID.
Dalton has said as recently as just last month that he could “embrace” the Republican-sponsored voter ID compromise measure that was discussed during the last legislative session, but failed to ever get to the floor.
In fact, in March 2011, House Republicans offered the first of two compromises on voter ID, the first being the use of just a voter registration card or “other forms of identification.
The NC Legislative Black Caucus, however, wasn’t buying it.
“Any type of ID required to be shown each and every time can have a chilling effect,” caucus chairman, Sen. Floyd McKissick (D-Durham) told the Charlotte Observer then. “Any obstacle to the polls we think is unjustified.”
When the GOP-led NC General Assembly did pass a voter photo ID law in 2011, saying that it was needed to ensure the “integrity” of the voting process in North Carolina, Gov. Beverly Perdue vetoed the measure, seeing it as a disguised attempt to suppress African-American and Hispanic voters, in addition to the youth vote, all prime demographics for President Obama’s 2012 re-election bid.
When House Republicans failed to override Perdue’s veto because Democrats refused to go along to make up the 72 votes needed, House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg), then announced that a compromise measure would be devised in the short session to get the law in place.
“The compromise measure being negotiated would allow voters to show a broad range of documents to prove identity, including bank statements, utility bills or any government documents with name and address,” The News and Observer reported in its June 5, 2012 story. “Voters without such documents would be required to show that their signature matched their voter registration form.”
Speaker Tillis was certain that a deal could be reached, and said as much.
Twenty-one days later, however, any hope of voter ID compromise this year in time for the 2012 elections was dead.
“The speaker asked me to try to strike a balance to ensure the integrity of the election system ... but I could never strike that balance,” Rep. David Lewis, the House elections committee chairman, told the N&O in its June 26th story regarding his negotiations with House Democrats. “It was going to have to be a substantially watered down version and the more I moved in that direction, the more I risked losing the members of my caucus.”
But to hear Lt. Gov. Dalton tell it, he would have found common ground with the Republicans.
“Do you favor a voter ID law?” Dalton was asked by WRAL-TV anchorman David Crabtree on the Sept. 15th broadcast of “On The Record.”
“Voter ID, not photo ID,” the Democratic candidate at first replied, then going on to immediately contradict himself in the next sentence.
“I do not favor voter ID. I have said there is a compromise bill out there that was talked about, and I think, you know, I can embrace that,” a tape of the broadcast shows Dalton saying, with him then adding in contradiction, “I really don’t think [voter fraud] is a problem though.”
Dalton’s voter ID contradiction is important because just last week his campaign kicked off an “African-Americans for Dalton” Youtube commercial suggesting that McCrory, the former mayor of Charlotte, didn’t understand black people or their issues.
One of the black lawmakers featured in Dalton’s ad is NC Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Sen. Floyd McKissick, who maintained in 2011 that, “Any type of ID required to be shown each and every time can have a chilling effect. Any obstacle to the polls we think is unjustified.”
In Dalton’s new ad, McKissick is seen calling Republican Pat McCrory, "a politician who doesn't understand why I'm upset about voter ID."
This week, the Dalton campaign garnered endorsements from the Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, and the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, apparently with neither group realizing that Dalton was not one hundred percent against voter ID as many had assumed.
Dalton’s campaign would not say why he would be open to any compromise on voter ID given its firm statements to the contrary, apparently realizing the political downside of publicly drawing attention to the policy contradiction while currently losing in the polls to Republican opponent Pat McCrory.
Campaign spokesman Schorr Johnson would only say what “Governor” Walter Dalton would do if elected.
“If he is elected, [Lt. Gov. Dalton] will hold any voter ID bill that came across his desk to an extremely high standard of protecting the right to vote and has drawn a line in the sand when it comes to requiring photo ID,” Johnson wrote in an email response.
Johnson continued, “I was also making you aware of the current law on the books (which Dalton supported) that requires identification to register to vote and for first-time voters at the polls when they vote (which can be utility bills, etc.). [Lt. Gov. Dalton] is not seeking to change those laws, either. The only type of voter ID law that he might not oppose would have to be consistent with this--but he's not going to initiate it. And again, no photo ID.”
When pressed as to what that means, Johnson later added in a separate reply that Dalton would, “… not act without a lot of outreach to those who might be concerned about it. If all parties were on board, he might consider it.”
When still pressed as to why the lieutenant governor, if elected, would consider any voter ID bill at all for any reason, Schorr Johnson replied, “He is not espousing any compromise bill. But he would only consider it if came to him as a way to prevent the photo ID bill from becoming law (through a veto override)--and would only do so after receiving lots of input from those who are concerned about the bill.”
Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis has assured that, assuming the GOP remains in control of the General Assembly this fall, a new attempt to pass a voter ID law would be made in the next long session in 2013.
If Pat McCrory is elected in November, then both he and Tillis guarantee it will become law.
But what happens if Walter Dalton is elected instead?
Depending on whether the Republicans are able to increase their majority in the House would determine if they’d be able to pass a voter photo ID law on their own without Democrats. If they’re able to deliver 72 votes without Democrats, Tillis can then override any veto a Gov. Dalton could muster, thus not needing to compromise what they really want.
But if Democrats were to increase their numbers in the state House, thus lessening the GOP majority, then, theoretically, there would be nothing to compromise because Dalton could easily veto the bill without fear of override.
So why would he be willing to compromise at all, or even telegraph that now?
His campaign either can’t, or won’t say.
“As Governor, [North Carolina] will have a strong ally in protecting the right to vote,” Johnson concluded.
Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, was not so sure.
“Voter ID in any form is a Trojan horse backdoor effort to voter suppression,” He told The Carolinian. “The NAACP does not compromise the values of the 15th amendment or the Voting Rights Act. The NAACP has fought for 103 years in every political climate for the full an unabridged right to vote.”
“This is where we continue to stand for all Americans and North Carolinians,” Rev. Barber continued, “and we call on Republicans and Democrats to stand with us on this noble principle.”
“We endorse the current law of signature attestation with a five-year felony if you engage in fraud. The focus of this election should be jobs, addressing poverty, securing labor rights, educational equality, health care, addressing disparities in criminal justice system, and expanding and protecting voting rights. We should be identifying a progressive vision for our future as a state, rather than trying to find ways to ID voters that have already been qualified to vote.”
Lt. Gov. Dalton and Republican Pat McCrory have been invited to address key issues during the upcoming NC NAACP State Convention in Raleigh later this month.
Thus far, only Dalton has agreed to attend.
MCCRORY WOULD SIGN VOTER ID LAW AS
By Cash Michaels
[published Sept. 12, 2012 in The Carolinian Newspaper]
Republican former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory confirms that if he’s elected North Carolina’s next governor, and the GOP-led NC General Assembly finally passes a voter photo identification law, it will get his signature.
“Absolutely,” McCrory, who is leading Democratic challenger Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton by double digits in the most recent polling, told The Carolinian Newspaper Wednesday during a phone interview.
“To get into the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte [last week] you needed an ID. To buy Sudafed in North Carolina you need an ID. To get into the Governor’s Mansion you need an ID,” McCrory said, seemingly dismissing concerns made across the country in other voter ID states about voter suppression.
Two weeks ago during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., NC House Speaker Thom Tillis was quoted as telling the NC delegation that if the Republicans hold on to their majorities in both state houses, and McCrory is elected governor, that lawmakers would pass voter ID law, and that he would sign it.
Noting how Gov. Beverly Perdue has successfully vetoed GOP efforts, thus far, to make voter ID law, McCrory left no doubt that he would do what Tillis said, and more.
“I’d also draft a bill where …you could show your utility bill to prove that you live in the residence [from] which you’re voting,” he continued. “There are gaps in the voting records right now that are just wide open for abuse and corruption, just like there are gaps in campaign finance laws which our current governor [Perdue] broke when she ran against me in ’08.”
McCrory went on to justify voter ID because Gov. Perdue, he said, was “hiding illegal flights.”
In fact, members of Perdue’s 2008 campaign were indicted for not disclosing a number of campaign flights, but the governor herself was never accused, charged or proven to be aware of what was going on.
If a “Governor” McCrory were to sign a voter ID measure, it would not be until 2013 at the earliest. North Carolina would then join over 30 other states that have passed laws requiring photo identification at the polls, and lessened the opportunity for early voting.
Critics, including US Attorney General Eric Holder, have charged that because voter ID laws have been passed primarily in states with Republican governors or Republican-led legislatures, that they really are just mechanisms for voter suppression among majority Democrat populations like African-Americans, Latinos and young people.
Last month, a federal district court in Washington D.C struck down the voter ID law in the state of Texas, while a state judge in Pennsylvania upheld what is said to be the toughest voter ID law in the nation. Both cases are being appealed.
McCrory says voter ID needs to be the law of the land.
“There is so much money in politics right now [that] if you close your eyes to the potential of corruption, you’re being naïve, and voter ID is one way to do that. It’s got to be a fair and reasonable voter ID bill, and I would definitely approve it, and I think it’s needed. I think over 85 percent of the people in North Carolina agree with that.”
When told that, thus far, the evidence of widespread voter fraud in North Carolina and across the nation is virtually nonexistent, McCrory replied, “ If you don’t look for it, you won’t find it. But there is so much money on the ground right now being paid by both political parties, on the ground, if you don’t think there’s corruption in voting, you’re naïve.”
McCrory then brought up Chicago as being “well known for corruption in voting,” as well as “other cities and areas in the United States that are well known for corruption because of the big money.”
“We better protect ourselves here in North Carolina.”
Schorr Johnson, communications director for the Walter Dalton campaign, reacted to McCrory’s remarks.
"Pat McCrory and his allies in the legislature want to disenfranchise people and take away our most sacred right, the right to vote. Walter Dalton will stand up for this right and veto any attempt at requiring a photo ID to vote,” Johnson wrote in a statement.