This story was written by Michael Hewlett and first appeared in the Winston-Salem Journal on Thursday, March 24, 2016
North Carolina’s photo ID voting requirement resulted in confusion, long lines and voters not being able to cast a ballot at the polls during the March 15 primary, activists said Wednesday in a conference call.
“We saw poll workers being absolutely uninformed about the requirement,” said Allison Riggs, an attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “We saw voters being turned away.”
Bob Hall, the executive director of Democracy North Carolina, said that even with the changes, voters had problems casting a ballot. He said his organization sent out more than 700 people to take incident reports and refer people to a hotline.
“Over the period from early voting to Election Day, that hotline got over 1,000 calls,” Hall said. “The complexity of the new voter ID law and the variety of exceptions turned our election system into a bureaucratic nightmare. You’d think constitutional lawmakers would find that repulsive.”
The North Carolina NAACP and others filed a lawsuit against the photo ID requirement and other provisions of the state’s election law soon after they were passed in 2013. A trial in Winston-Salem was held in January on the photo ID requirement. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder has not made a decision on the photo ID requirement.
Jackie Hyland, a spokeswoman for the State Board of Elections, said that more voters participated in the March 15 primary than in any previous primary.
“While we are carefully reviewing ways to shorten wait times, we are proud of the work counties did to ensure voters’ voices were heard at the polls,” she said. “For three years, the State Board of Elections has educated and assisted voters to prepare the state for voter ID.”