Is your vote protected?

By Jeff Atkinson - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Voter registration cards that were mailed to the wrong address.

In North Carolina and South Carolina no picture ID is required on Election Day.  Just that voter card that shows up in your mailbox.

But sometimes that little paper ID goes to the wrong address.  And it would be easy for someone to get their hands on one and lie at the polls.

We met a woman who got three voter registration cards over the weekend - with three different names - all sent to her address.  They were people who used to live in the home she owns now.

It was out to get the mail this weekend that caught Kara Logue off guard.  Inside her mailbox - from the Mecklenburg Board of Elections were three voter registration cards.

None of them hers.

"The first couple moved away five years ago and the second couple I believe in 2001," she said.

In a mixup at the Board of Elections voter registration cards were sent to people who've since moved out of North Carolina.

"How easy it would have been for someone to just walk in, give my address and say they were them and vote," said Logue.

It's examples like that Republicans in the North Carolina Legislature will use to try to get passed this year - as many states already have - a requirement to show a photo ID to vote.

27 states now have a law on the books.

Republicans say it's a protection against voter fraud.  Democrats say it's only a way to suppress the poor from voting.

One who's studied both sides and written about it in newspapers across the state is Dr. Chris Cooper.

"It's not as big of a problem as Republicans would tell you it is, but the consequences aren't as negative as the Democrats would tell you that they are," said Cooper.

In North Carolina in 2008 - among the millions of votes cast - the State Board of Elections says it had just 18 cases of double voting.. shooting holes in the GOP's case.

Democrats are no better.  In states that have voter ID laws studies have shown it has little or no effect on voter turnout.

"It makes sense that it would be a problem. I think myself sometimes when I go vote I think well gee could I bilk the system here? Could I pretend that I'm somebody else? The reality is it just doesn't happen that much," said Cooper.

But supporters say you have to have a photo ID to cash a check.  Board an airplane.  Even get cold medicine.  Is it too much to ask for to participate in democracy?

"I do find it shocking when I go to vote that I never had to show an I.D. I never have to show anything that's proof who I am except telling them my address," said Logue.

You'll be hearing more about this in the coming weeks.  Legislatures in North Carolina and South Carolina are or will be considering bills to require a photo ID to vote.

We wanted to find out how the Mecklenburg Board of Elections happened to send the wrong voter ID cards but the office was closed Monday for the MLK Holiday.

Incidentally, it is a felony to illegally vote or lie when you sign in to vote.

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