NC Women United Statement on Senate Passage of HB589 – A Serious Blow for Voting Rights

We are deeply alarmed by the passage of HB589, an anti-voter bill that includes some of the most restrictive voter ID requirements in the nation, cuts to the popular early voting schedule, and limits to voter registration activities. In addition, this legislation has the potential to increase bureaucracy in our elections process as well as decrease transparency, neither of which will increase voter turnout or voter confidence.

We are also disturbed by the process in which this legislation was introduced, mimicking the pattern we’ve seen late in this session of adding substantial language to a bill with little notice to the public for input. With no substantial evidence that our elections process needs revising, sweeping legislation such as this – which seems likely to increase the workload of election and other state officials, incur costs for the taxpayer, and disenfranchise voters – deserves careful consideration and debate.
Our goal at North Carolina Women United is to bring women’s voices to the state policy table, and encouraging women to vote is one way we can accomplish this. We are concerned that women in particular may be disproportionately affected by provisions in this bill: women are
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64 percent of those without the necessary voter ID; women, being more likely to officially change their names, may face additional administrative barriers and paperwork during registration or attempting to vote; and long lines at the polls may keep women with substantial care giving duties away from voting. The women of North Carolina as a group regularly vote in higher numbers than men, and we want to ensure them every opportunity to easily participate in the democratic process.

As stated by the president of the League of Women Voters North Carolina, a North Carolina Women United member organization, at an earlier Voter ID hearing at the North Carolina General Assembly, “voting is the one time when all citizens have an equal say in how we shall be governed”. Our goal should always be to work towards full enfranchisement of all NC citizens, not to arbitrarily restrict some of our voices.