No conservative Christian who knows the background of North Carolina’s Voter ID amendment should vote for it — because the amendment, which would require picture ID for in-person voting, is neither conservative nor Christian.
NC’s Voter ID Law is Not Conservative
A vote for North Carolina’s Voter ID amendment is a vote against conservatism.
As the National Review, “the bible of American conservatism,” succinctly puts it: “Generally speaking, a conservative is someone who resists unnecessary change.”
Legislative leaders advocating for Voter ID could not identify even one person ever charged with in-person voter fraud in North Carolina.
A bipartisan, independent audit of North Carolina’s 2016 election identified exactly one ineligible vote that the proposed Voter ID amendment might have prevented. This is out of 4.8 million votes cast.
On these numbers, the NC Voter ID amendment would address a problem with 0.000002 percent of votes.
You are more likely to get struck by lightning this year than the Voter ID amendment is to prevent one single fraudulent vote.
This proposed change in North Carolina law is about as far from necessary as one can be.
Thus, the NC Voter ID amendment is about as far from conservative as one can be.
NC’s Voter ID Law is Not Christian
A vote for North Carolina’s Voter ID amendment is a vote for racial discrimination and thus a vote for sin and against Christianity.
Billy Graham explained, “Racism is a sin precisely because it keeps us from obeying God’s command to love our neighbor, and because it has its roots in pride and arrogance. Christians who harbor racism in their attitudes or actions are not following their Lord at this point, for Christ came to bring reconciliation—reconciliation between us and God, and reconciliation between each other.”
In asking you to vote for this amendment, legislative leaders are asking you to join in an action that the federal court of appeals has ruled intentionally discriminates against African Americans in North Carolina. Racial discrimination, of course, is a form of racism.
A vote for the amendment is a vote to further actions of the legislative leaders that the court found harbor—indeed are motivated by—racial discrimination against African Americans in support of a political agenda. This is far from reconciliation Christ came to bring.
NC Voter ID: Intentional Discrimination Against African Americans
The U.S. Court of Appeals, in a 3-0 decision, ruled that the evidence shows North Carolina’s version of Voter ID and other changes sought by leaders of the North Carolina legislature:
- “target African Americans with almost surgical precision”
- constitute “intentional discrimination,” and
- were enacted with “discriminatory intent.”
Loads of Evidence that NC’s Voter ID Effort Intentionally Discriminates Against African Americans
Here is just some of the evidence that North Carolina’s legislative leaders are engaging in intentional racial discrimination with their version of Voter ID, quoting from the court of appeals’ written ruling:
Before enactment of a Voter ID law in 2013, the North Carolina “legislature requested and received racial data as to usage of the practices changed by the proposed law.”
“This data showed that African Americans disproportionately lacked the most common kind of photo ID, those issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).”
Before receiving the requested racial data, the legislature’s draft voting law “provided that all government-issued IDs, even many that had been expired, would satisfy the requirement as an alternative to DMV-issued photo IDs. …”
After receiving this data, “the legislature amended the bill to exclude many of the alternative photo IDs used by African Americans. As amended, the bill retained only the kinds of IDs that white North Carolinians were more likely to possess.”
Even More Evidence
More evidence of intentional racial discrimination noted by the court:
Legislative leaders did not have evidence of in-person voter fraud in North Carolina, but they “did have evidence of alleged cases of mail-in absentee voter fraud.”
They “also had evidence that absentee voting was not disproportionately used by African Americans; indeed, whites disproportionately used absentee voting.”
The legislature “then exempted absentee voting from the photo ID requirement.”
“This was so even though … the bipartisan State Board of Elections specifically requested that the [legislature] remedy the potential for mail-in absentee voter fraud and expressed no concern about in-person voter fraud ….””
Many non-racist people who have no idea of this background will vote for the amendment. They will not know that their vote for the amendment is a vote for racial discrimination, one that will facilitate intentional discrimination against African Americans, something they likely do not intend. They will likely think it no big deal to require ID.
Racist to Require ID to Vote When ID is Required for Other Things? What’s the Big Deal? Other States Have Voter ID, Why Not NC?
It is fine and not racist for government to require ID in many instances. It can require ID to allow people to check out books, fly, buy alcohol, etc. Courts say that the government can even require it for voting.
If, however, a government’s intent for requiring ID in such an instance is racial discrimination, then the government’s action is illegal.
For example, if one public library had meaningful problems with patrons checking out books under fake names and not returning them and that library decided it wanted to start requiring ID to avoid such losses, it could do so.
If a second library decided it wanted to start requiring ID in order to reduce the number of African Americans checking out books, then that library would violate the Constitution in doing so even though in the abstract it seems like requiring ID is no big deal.
Are you OK with what the second library is doing?
If you are not, you ought not to be OK with the NC Voter ID amendment.
No conservative should vote for the NC Voter ID amendment.
No Christian should.
No one should.
** Steve Gardner is a student in the divinity program at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity. He is serving in a public-theology internship.
Sources and Notes
The text of NC’s Voter ID amendment ballot language is here.
“National Review …”: Jonah Goldberg, “Phyllis Schlafly’s Death Is a Reminder That Conservatism Still Matters,” National Review (September 7, 2016).
“When pressed to identify instances of in-person voter fraud, legislative leaders could not identify even one person …”: All the quotes are taken from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s written decision in NC State Conference of the NAACP et al. v. McCrory, No. 16-1468 (4th Cir. July 29, 2016). The Supreme Court declined petitions to review the Court of Appeal’s decision (petitions for certiorari) after North Carolina governmental officials disagreed on who could seek review. For more on the 2016 opinion from the Court of Appeals, see Steve Gardner, “NC’s Voter ID Law is Intentionally Racist, Rules U.S. Court of Appeals: Racism on the Ballot as a Constitutional Amendment,” AuthenticTheology.com (October 17, 2018).
“A bipartisan, independent study of North Carolina’s 2016 election …”: NC State Board of Elections, “Post-Election Audit Report: General Election 2016” (April 21, 2017), pages 2-3 (summary); also see Brennan Center for Justice, “Debunking the Voter Fraud Myth” (January 31, 2017).
1 out of 4.8 million is 0.000002 percent.
“six times more likely to get struck by lightning …”: National Geographic, “Flash Facts About Lightning” (June 24, 2005) (“The odds of becoming a lightning victim in the U.S. in any one year is 1 in 700,000.”). About 1 out of 4.8 million / 1 in 700,000 = about 7.
“Billy Graham explained, ‘Racism is a sin ….’”: Billy Graham Library, “Billy Graham on Racism,” Billy Graham in His Own Words (January 8, 2018).
Updated (10/19): Adjusted the original overstatement in the first paragraph; added the paragraph beginning “Many non-racist people …”; made clarifying edits.