NAACP: Local Voter ID laws are unconstitutional

GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - When Governor Beverly Perdue vetoed the Voter ID bill last year, some local counties decided to take matters into their own hands. Lincoln, Rowan, and Gaston Counties all drafted their own versions closely mirroring the state bill that would require all voters to present a photo ID before casting their ballot.

"It is a solution in search of a problem, it is not necessary. Our democracy has functioned all these years without voter ID laws," said NC NAACP President Rev. William Barber. Barber sent an open letter to all NC county commissioners on Monday warning them the bill defies the 14th amendment guaranteeing equal protection.

Gaston County Commission Chair Donnie Loftis says Gaston County passed a resolution in October of 2011 asking the state to pass local legislation to require voters to show ID. In the state version of the bill, Loftis says their are many different ways citizens without ID can obtain one, even homeless people with no permanent address can be issued a voter ID card with a letter signed by a manager at a shelter where they live. Loftis says an overwhelming majority of his constituents have asked for the reform.

In NC, State Board of Elections research says from the years 2004-2010, there were 5 cases of voter fraud per 1,000,000 ballots cast. In Gaston County, for the same years, there were 2 cases of voter fraud.

Loftis says the time to pass the legislation is now.

"When do you put water on a fire? When it's blazing totally out of control there's no way to get a handle on it. It's just a process, that the overwhelming majority of the citizens in our county want this process to be fair, be open and be legal."