July 17, 2023 8:00am

Triangle respondents split on new voter ID requirement

Previous attempts to enshrine voter ID into law were repealed, but pollers think this time will stick.

Photo of Leigh Tauss
Research Triangle Correspondent

In August, North Carolinians will need to show a valid ID at the polls in order to vote. Republicans have been pushing to enshrine a voter ID requirement into law for years, however previous attempts in 2013 and 2018 were ultimately struck down by the courts.
But now with a conservative lean on the court, it looks like the measure will be in place when early voting begins for municipal elections in August.
The debate surrounding voter ID has divided the legislature and so too has left our politically savvy Power Poll members split.

When asked whether voters should be required to show ID at the polls, our respondents were divided nearly evenly, with 31 percent in strong agreement and another 31 percent in strong disagreement. Another 20 percent said they somewhat disagree, pushing the disagree camp to 51 percent total, while 8 percent said they somewhat agreed and 10 percent were neutral on the issue.
What this tells me is that while slightly more of our respondents are against voter ID, the ones who support it feel as strongly as those fighting it. In other words, this is an issue with little leeway to be lukewarm.

As for whether this attempt at voter ID will stick around, most of the respondents think the law is here to stay, at least for the time being. The largest group of respondents -- 46 percent -- think it will “probably” stick around while another 12 percent said they think it “definitely” will. Another 31 percent said “maybe” and 11 percent said “probably not.”

Shockingly, not a single person thinks the law is destined for the trash heap in the immediate future. And withstanding some divine intervention, I’m inclined to agree with them, especially with early voting just weeks away. However, if the law survives another rebalancing of power in the courts down the road is another story.

Critics of voter ID requirements worry it will disenfranchise Black and brown voters, and ultimately result in lower turnout. And the majority of our members agree. Twenty percent said they definitely think the requirement will result in lower turnout and another 37 percent predict it probably will. On the flip side, 13 percent think it definitely won’t have an impact and another 20 percent say it probably won’t make much of a difference. Only 10 percent chose the middle option, “maybe.”

The impact on turnout remains to be seen, but one thing that’s clear, at least to our members, is that the state hasn’t done enough to ensure the tens of thousands of North Carolinians without a valid ID are able to vote in a few weeks. Forty percent of members say they strongly disagree the state’s made a decent outreach effort and another 24 percent somewhat disagree, totaling 64 percent of folks that think not enough has been done to reach these residents. Only 13 percent strongly agree that the state has made a solid effort to make sure these residents can vote and another 4 percent somewhat agreed. That leaves 18 percent in the neutral category, without strong feelings either way.

Our last question saw the most consensus. The rationale for implementing a Voter ID requirement was, in part, to combat what conservatives have categorized as widespread fraud. But a whopping 61 percent of our members strongly disagree that such fraud is actually occurring in North Carolina and another 9 percent somewhat disagree. Twenty percent said they strongly agreed such fraud exists and another 7 percent somewhat agree. Just 3 percent of folks had no strong feelings either way.

Even if members are split on whether a voter ID requirement is necessary in North Carolina, they decisively don’t buy the main reason lawmakers pushed so hard to implement it. And most of our members agree there has been a lack of outreach by state officials to make sure those currently without ID are able to vote. And while members think this law is likely to stick around, they also agree that it’s likely to result in lower voter turnout.

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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