Bills targeting voting are ill-advised

Apr 08, 2013

There are plenty of things in the North Carolina state government that need fixing, but the voting process isn’t one of them.

Unlike other states where voting nightmares have emerged, there have been no documented problems in North Carolina.

Yet there are at least three bills being considered by legislators that will upend the voting process and make casting a ballot more difficult for many state residents.

One measure, S666, would eliminate a parent’s tax deduction for a dependent child who registers to vote in the community where he or she attends college. The deduction is valuable and most families aren’t likely to do without it.

So, college students who want to vote must follow a laborious process of sending in a request for an absentee ballot, (the request must come through the mail as email isn’t accepted) waiting for the ballot to arrive, and then getting a witness to sign on before mailing it back. Since major state elections are in May and November, it is unlikely that many college students would be able to travel back home given the timing, which will be in the midst of finals.

That would especially be difficult if another proposed voting change is adopted. This measure would reduce the current early voting period from almost a month to just six days. Considering that more than half of the voters in Haywood opt to use the early voting process, shrinking the time frame makes no sense.

Then there’s the revamped voter ID law requiring photo identification to vote. Many of the most offensive provisions in earlier versions have been addressed, but the bill still begs the question: Why would the state spend so much money and time to address fears about a potential problem than focus on the many known problems that need fixing?

The whole idea behind a representative democracy is to encourage broad participation in the election process. If anything, state leaders ought to be turning their attention toward ways to increase voter participation, especially within the young voters who will be entrusted to carry the democracy banner forward.

It is puzzling, no disturbing, to ponder the “whys” behind moves that will prevent voting rather than foster it.