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Voter ID Law 101: Students Could Have a Tough Time Casting Their Ballot

Photo: College student Molly McDonough would be impacted by Senate Voter ID Bill. Courtesy: McDonough
Photo: College student Molly McDonough would be impacted by Senate Voter ID Bill. Courtesy: McDonough
July 23, 2013

RALEIGH, N.C. - Citizenship groups working hard to engage North Carolina's college students say the State Assembly is working against them.

This week the State Senate will vote on Voter ID legislation. According to Masac Dorlouis, campus coordinator with the nonpartisan group Common Cause North Carolina, in addition to disenfranchising many minorities, seniors and those living in poverty, one part of the bill forces students to obtain a state-issued photo ID to be able to vote, rather than using their student IDs.

"We look at that as a barrier because it all becomes some sort of difficult process in order for them simply to vote."

Molly McDonough is a sophomore at NC State University and a member of the NC Student Power Union. A Chapel Hill native, she doesn't have a driver's license because it would increase her parent's car insurance rates. State senators say photo IDs would be free for voters who need them, but McDonough estimates it would cost her more than $100 to obtain a government-issued photo ID, by the time she paid for the necessary documents and missed a day from work.

She said she's suspicious of some lawmakers' intentions.

"I think that the people in Raleigh are trying to prevent college students from voting because in 2012 college students helped to elect a President who doesn't look like them."

The bill's primary supporter, Senator Tom Apodaca, a Republican of Hendersonville, said college IDs could be manipulated and allow out-of-state students to vote in two states. According to Masac Dorlouis, there is no indication that is a pervasive problem in North Carolina's elections.

He said he believes the Republican-led State Assembly is trying to secure their political future.

"When you look at the fact that they're disenfranchising students with such a bill, it does come across as a ploy to solidify their seats in the legislature for more years."

The State Senate is expected to pass their version of the Voter ID law this week. It would then move to the House. Dorlouis said some version of a voter ID requirement will likely pass, given the makeup of the legislature.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC