Six Winston-Salem council members oppose voter ID legislation

From a statement issued today by Winston-Salem City Council members Vivian Burke, Denise D. Adams, Dan Besse, Molly Leight, Derwin Montgomery and James Taylor Jr.:

We the undersigned urge members of our local legislative delegation to oppose HB 351 and similar efforts to require photo identification as a prerequisite of voting.

There are an estimated 500,000 North Carolina citizens presently registered as active voters in our state who lack a current driver's license or other photo identity car.

These voters are disproportionately people of color, the elderly and low-income citizens. For example, African-Americans are about 22% of all registered voters in North Carolina, but are estimated to be 32% of the registered voters who do not have a current photo ID. The racially discriminatory effect of voter photo ID requirements would be flagrant.

Voters without a current driver's license would face extra expense and time to obtain an alternative ID as required by the terms of HB 351. In effect, the requirement would amount to a "poll tax" with disproportionate impact on the poor, elderly and disabled.

Mayor Allen Joines and council members Robert Clark and Wanda Merschel did not sign the statement.

The Forsyth County Commission voted 4-3 to endorse the bill last month.

Besse writes in an e-mail to members of the Forsyth County delegation to the General Assembly: "It is the tradition of our city council not to debate as official city statements policy resolutions which are not directly related to city business. However, several of us as individuals are concerned that the recent vote by a narrow majority of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners in support of HB 351 may have left our legislative delegation with a misimpression that that proposal enjoys broader support among local elected officials.

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