The Supreme Court’s Shelby County v Holder decision invalidated, on constitutional grounds, significant portions of the Voting Rights Act. It allows states to pass voting laws free of federal government oversight. North Carolina was one of several states to institute changes, many under the banner of election integrity and voter confidence.

According to the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation, there have been a total of only 112 election fraud cases in North Carolina since 1986. 

Tuesday’s primary election will be a test run for the new laws passed by members of the General Assembly. WFDD’s David Ford spoke with University of North Carolina at Greensboro political science professor Hunter Bacot about their potential impacts on Tar Heel voters.

Interview Highlights

On the Voter ID law:

"I think it's going to mute some votes. I do believe people are not going to be prepared for it. Because people — we live our lives. We don't live our lives around politics, we just live our lives from day to day, and then we go enjoy the right to vote. And so we try to do that. And I think a lot of people will be caught off guard. There's been a lot of effort to educate people, but some people just are not going to pay attention. And I think the people who were on the lower economic strata are going to have difficulty and I think that people who are more elderly are going to have difficulty in trying to demonstrate that they do have a voter ID or even have one that's allowable. Now, there are some exceptions. I think, if you're over 65, and you have an expired ID of some sort that's accepted that they will allow you to use that."

On the new law requiring a hard copy photo ID with mail-in ballots:

"I think you're going to see the voter ID have a tremendous effect in the mail in ballots, because you have to have a copy of your ID. And if you think about how many people can print a copy, to go along with the ballot itself. Now, we can take pictures and send it all we want, but having to have a printed out copy to go with it is going to be a challenge for those people. And that's going to be especially for the people who are homebound. And the people who can't afford to have a printer. Plus, the other aspect of that is you have to have it in by 5 p.m. Election Day — not postmarked — it has to be where it's supposed to be by 5 p.m. Election Day. So that's going to create some confusion because we have the 7:30 p.m. closing of polls. So the requirement for that ballot would be mailed in, and it's going to be by end of business, which is 5 p.m. So I think that's going to create some challenges."

On the elimination of the mail-in ballot grace period:

"A lot of people will do their absentee ballot on the day of the election. So they'll mail it in that day and have it postmarked and they're fine — the old way. The new way? No, you cannot. So you have to have lead time in there to allow it to get to where it's going. So you're looking at four or five days — I don't care where you live — to make sure that it arrives at the destination."

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