Cover Story: Voter ID - Rallying the troops?

By Jeff Atkinson - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory rallies his troops.

He hasn't launched a gubernatorial campaign yet. But he's already taking his political fight to Facebook.

McCrory's really pressing an issue that gets a whole bunch of people fired up.  Voter ID - preventing voter fraud.

Not long ago, Governor Bev Perdue, McCrory's 2008 opponent, vetoed a bill requiring picture IDs at the polls.  Enter Mayor Pat.

Some say voter fraud is a problem that doesn't exist. So why is McCrory so focused on it?

He's found an issue that doesn't seem unreasonable to a lot of voters in the middle and appeals to people in his base.

It's a way McCrory can get his name out there again and a way he can raise money.

The assignment is simple enough:  Find places where you have to show an ID to get something or do something.

That's what Pat McCrory put on his Facebook page.  Tell us your photo ID story, he says and he's already gotten some takers.

At the pharmacy.  To rent an apartment.  Even to buy a lottery ticket.

The seven-term Charlotte mayor and 2008 gubernatorial candidate is using the social media to build support for the Voter ID bill passed by the legislature that Governor Perdue vetoed last month.

"I'm trying to show the hypocrisy of Perdue's veto of a common sense requirement to have a photo ID when you vote," McCrory told us.

The North Carolina Senate last Wednesday took the first step in overriding Perdue's veto.  Next Monday its the state House's turn.  An override there is far less certain.

Republicans in the majority need basically five Democrats to switch sides to have a supermajority before the voter ID bill can become law.

It's why both sides are pulling out all the stops.  Before last week's vote in the Senate there were dueling rallies in Raleigh.  One sponsored by Democracy North Carolina.  Another headed up by Americans for Prosperity.

McCrory himself was featured in a robocall encouraging people to show up in Raleigh.  The call said, "Your presence is needed. Please come to the General Assembly."

McCrory hasn't officially said he's in the race for governor next year.  But the Facebook challenge and an e-mail blast his campaign seeking contributions leave little doubt he's going to get in.

We asked him are you going to run for governor? McCrory responded:  "As I've told you before we hope to.. but we're not ready to make an announcement for a long time."

While the Voter ID bill has galvanized both sides - on the right and the left - elections officials say the bill finds a solution where there isn't a problem.

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.

Democrats say the Voter ID bill would disenfranchise voters - shut people out of the process.

However, in states that have voter ID laws studies have shown it has little or no effect on voter turnout.

State elections records show somewhere in the neighborhood of about 500,000 current North Carolina voters don't have a state driver's license - most of them are senior citizens, students or the rural poor.

The bill addresses what would happens if someone shows up at the polls without a picture ID.  He or she would be able to vote, cast a provisional ballot, and then have several days to present proof of identity.

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