By Claire Williams
Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory encouraged his supporters to bring photo identification to the polls during this week's early voting in support of a bill that would require voters to show photo IDs at polling places.
The push for this initiative began last year when Republican legislators filed the voter ID bill, known as the "Restore Confidence in Government" act, which was vetoed by Gov. Bev Perdue.
Co-sponsor of the bill, Rep. Dale Folwell, R-Forsyth, said it only needs two more votes in the N.C. General Assembly to override the governor's veto.
"We expect a voter ID law to be in planning for next year if the legislature fails to override the governor's veto this year. Its chances of passing will likely be determined by the outcome of the November election," said Brent Laurenz, director of outreach of the N.C. Center for Voter Education, in an email.
McCrory spokesman Brian Nick said that if McCrory is elected governor, he would favor a similar law.
"We want to encourage all voters to bring their ID to the voting booth," McCrory said in a video.
"I know Gov. Perdue doesn't think it is necessary, and neither do her understudies who want to take her job, but we do."
Many Republican politicians are showing their support for the bill by bringing their photo IDs to the polls throughout the duration of early voting -- which at UNC is held at Rams Head Dining Hall until May 5.
Folwell said he would bring his photo ID to the poll to support the initiative, which he says protects against voter fraud.
"I will continue to push to get a voter ID law in North Carolina," he said. "Whether there is a law or not, I intend as an individual voter to do the same thing."
Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union and another co-sponsor of the bill, said he would do the same.
"I am pretty protective of the right to vote and the sanctity of the vote," Horn said.
"It is the most important right given to us in the Constitution. It protects me and my family and all of us."
Photo IDs are required in many aspects of society, including driving and getting an airplane, but not for voting, he said.
Both Folwell and Horn agreed the November elections will decide the fate of this initiative.
But Laurenz said voter fraud is not a common problem in the state.
"It is a slim fraction of the number of votes cast," he said.
And the law would cause complications with people who do not have a photo ID readily available, Laurenz said.
"There is a real concern about a strict photo ID law disenfranchising some voters, particularly the elderly and low-income citizens who may not drive or currently have a need for photo ID," he said.
"Elections should be open to 100 percent of the people who wish to participate."
Horn said he doesn't believe requiring photo IDs would disenfranchise any voters.
"At present, one can go down to the DMV to get a photo ID without getting a driver's license."
Horn said if a law requiring a photo ID to vote were passed, legislators could make it easier for voters to acquire photo IDs by adding more locations.