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My Turn, Renee C. Scheidt: Voter ID laws make sense

By Renee C. Scheidt

The official verdict is in. The great state of North Carolina has decided asking a person who votes to prove they are who they claim to be is racist.

Oh yes, that’s what Gov. Roy Cooper and a panel of judges just determined.

It all started back in 2018 when the NC Legislature approved voter ID laws. Gov Cooper promptly vetoed it. The legislature then overruled his veto. But a law suit was filed, sending it to the courts. Almost three years later in a split decision, a panel of three North Carolina judges blocked the state’s voter ID law. They said the law discriminates against black people and is “racist.” Why? Because black people “face greater hurdles to acquiring photo ID” as a result of not having a car or being able to get time off work to do so. (their words, not mine). The two judges blocking the bill say the bill also presents “circumstantial evidence of discriminatory intent.”

In other words, our African-American citizens in N.C. might not have a car to get to the polls or maybe can’t get off of work. Plus, the intent of the law is to discriminate. Only Judge Nathaniel Poovey dissented, writing that “not one scintilla of evidence was introduced during this trial that any legislator acted with racially discriminatory intent.The majority opinion in this case attempts to weave together the speculations and conjectures that plaintiffs put forward as circumstantial evidence of discriminatory intent behind Session Law 2018-144.”

My immediately reaction is, “What?” How could I be so ignorant to think an ID was just an ID and not some diabolical plot to keep blacks from voting? Why didn’t I realize that our fellow black N.C. citizens are disadvantaged and asking them to prove their identity is racist? And why single out black North Carolinians? Might not other races also not have a car or have problems getting off work? I hope Asians, Latinos, American Indians, mixed races and white folks that find themselves in the same boat aren’t offended that they weren’t even mentioned in this ruling! Don’t they count, too?

Do you not see the hypocrisy and lack of consistency in this ruling? I personally thought such laws made good sense. You see, I live in the real world where I’m regularly required to show proof of identification for common, everyday activities, regardless of the amount of pigment in my skin. That includes opening bank accounts, making withdrawals, using credit cards, applying for food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment, social security, buying alcohol and cigarettes, renting a motel room, boarding a plane, buying a car or gun, getting hunting and fishing licenses or concealed weapon permits — the list is endless. And if Biden has his way, vaccine IDs are on their way.

I haven’t even mentioned all the problems caused by identity fraud. Have you ever had someone take money from your bank account, but because the teller didn’t ask for an ID they got away with it? I have! Does such fraud not happen in the voter booth as well? Don’t be naive enough to think, “Surely not.” Cheating in elections has gone on for decades. Why be opposed to trying to prevent this evil? In today’s society, for good or bad, IDs are both needed and necessary.

I would be greatly offended that these esteemed judges looked upon me with such low expectations — possibly even pity or disdain. How dare they think I don’t have enough wits about me to get to the polls and prove I am me! Their patronizing attitude would serve only to make me more determined to show them, “Yes I can!” Perhaps years ago this might have been true. But since volunteers readily offer rides to anyone in need, this is no longer a legitimate argument. And in today’s world, how can you live without proof of identification?

The right to vote is the basic, foundational means by which we determine who will represent us in government. Every legal citizen has the right and duty to do so. But don’t call me a racist because I think one should be required to verify their identity. That’s hitting below the belt.

Renee C. Scheidt lives in Salisbury.

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