June 23, 2011 / 9:10 PM / 8 years ago

North Carolina governor vetoes voter photo ID bill

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue on Thursday vetoed a bill that would require voters to present photo identification before casting a ballot.

“We must always be vigilant in protecting the integrity of our elections,” said Perdue, a Democrat. “But requiring every voter to present a government-issued photo ID is not the way to do it.”

“This bill, as written, will unnecessarily and unfairly disenfranchise many eligible and legitimate voters,” she said in a statement.

North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature sent the bill to the governor last week.

The measure calls for voters to show one of eight forms of photo identification, including a state driver’s license, U.S. passport or military ID card.

Those without proper identification could cast a provisional ballot, but would have to present a valid photo ID before the general vote is deemed official.

Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis said Thursday that the governor’s veto ignores popular demand for tighter controls on voting to prevent fraud.

“An overwhelming majority of our citizens have continued to support this bill, knowing that it would provide confidence in voting and protect against potential voter fraud,” Tillis said in a statement.

“It would have done nothing to discourage or prevent voting by those who have a right to do so.”

Republican-controlled legislatures around the county have cited fraud as they push for voter ID bills. Fourteen states now ask voters to show photo identification at the polls or have passed laws to do so, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

North Carolina is the fourth state where a Democratic governor vetoed a voter photo ID bill this year, said Keesha Gaskins, senior counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice in New York. Vetoes were upheld in Minnesota and Montana, and a veto is pending in Missouri.

Republicans in North Carolina enjoy a veto-proof majority in the state Senate, but will need the help of several Democrats in the House to reach the three-fifths super majority required to override a veto.

Bob Hall, director of the election watchdog group Democracy North Carolina, congratulated Perdue, saying the bill would have reversed an improving trend in voter turnout.

“North Carolina has historically had very low voter turnout, and we’ve been doing better,” Hall said. “The photo ID would have been a tool of voter suppression.”

Additional reporting by Corrie MacLaggan; Editing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Greg McCune

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