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Joint | April 4, 2013 | Press Room | Joint Republican Press Conference

Full MP3 Audio File

[SPEAKER CHANGES] Good morning everybody, thank you for coming. We’re here to announce after a, what I consider to be a transparent deliberative process that’s involved a number of meetings and hearings, I'll talk about it in a minute, that we are prepared to file the bill for voter ID. It will be filed today. The process that we’ve gone through, we’ve had three public hearings, we've had hours of testimony, we have had over 100 citizens speak at at least one event, there have been several expert witnesses, a number of people have come together to try and give us insights into what this bill should look like. And I think you will see that it's very different from the bill that was passed last year. Its tried to take into account a number of concerns that were raised, and I think its technically a better bill, and a bill that we are very confident will withstand any challenge that may come to us in the way of the courts. The main reason were are doing this bill, well first off, the citizens of North Carolina want some form of voter ID legislation. Three out of four people in the state of North Carolina consistently say that this is something that they believe is appropriate, and something that they would like to have, that I believe really does restore a lot of the confidence in voting outcomes. One of the key reasons we are doing in. We’ll take questions after the primary bill sponsors come before you and make comments on certain aspects of the bill, the process and the bill itself. We’re going to begin with Representative Lewis. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Speaker, and good morning to all of you and thank you for your time today. What our intent is to today is to ask the primary bill sponsors of the bill to go through the various parts of the bill and to explain that to you, and then we will also address the process that we intend to follow from this point forward to make sure the bill is heard and viewed and folks have a chance to offer their continued input on the bill, and then I’ll come back up and we’ll address whatever inquiries you have. So, with that, Representative Murray. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Chairmen Lewis, My name is Tom Murray, Representative here in Wake County. I’m going to talk about the strict photo ID portion of the legislation as well as improvements to the provisional ballot process and the absentee voting process. Those are three pieces of the bill to help improve integrity. We are going to allow for multiple forms of state issued IDs, including g drivers licenses, non operators license, student IDs from state institutions, employee IDs for state employees, travel cards. We’re also going to be developing a statewide database, so if an individual shows up without one of those photo IDs, but their photo is in a statewide database, then the elections official can look that individual up. We have special considerations for voters over the age of 70, as well as persons with disabilities. We have special considerations for those individuals as well. If you don’t have a photo ID, you’ll be allowed to vote a provisional ballot, and come back to the board of elections with a photo ID to get that vote counted. We are also going to allow for free photo IDs for folks that have financial hardships, as well as if you need a free birth certificate in order to prove who you are to get that photo ID, we are going to allow for that as well. We are trying to take in consideration people with financial hardships as well. From an absentee ballot perspective, we are going to develop an official form for absentee ballot requests. The voter themselves can ask for that can fill out that form, a guardian can fill out that form, or a near relative can help them fill out that form. You have to put your drivers license or last four digits of your social on that form to be able to request an absentee ballot, or you can include any, what a lot of folks call a ?? document, that includes your name and address that includes a utility bill, a bank statement, a paycheck, or any other official government document to request an absentee ballot to improve the integrity for that request. And so we are trying to improve the integrity of the absentee voting process as well as requiring a stitch photo ID in the voting process. And I’ll be available to answer any questions, but I think that Representative Warren is gonna discuss a piece of the legislation that I think you’re all gonna find very exciting to help improve voter information and how we’re going to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to vote and prove who they are. Representative Warren. I’m sorry, Representative Samuelson. [SPEAKER CHANGES] But just not quite as exciting, so we will skip over it. I’m Representative Samuelson from Charlotte, I’m going to be covering the...

About the state issued ID cards. If a voter does not have photo identification, they can get a non-operator card from DMV. We will cover the cost if they have a financial hardship. So the fee for the card will be waived if they are willing to sign that they have a financial hardship and cannot afford them, as well as any fees for the documents required in order to get the non-operator ID. So we really want to make this possible for people who are having the hardship and cannot get the ID card to be able to get it. The nice plus on this is those same ID cards can then be used for other things, and we all know how often you need an ID when you go places. So if someone has not been able to get a photo ID because of financial hardship we will be able to remove that barrier for them. They would though, have to sign a document saying that they have financial hardship and are unable to pay for those documents themselves. We will also, as part of the exciting program that Representative Warren will go over, make it easier for them to know that we have that service and make it easier for them to get to it. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Good morning. This bill was crafted with a lot of concern for the expressions of concern for voter suppression and voter disenfranchisement, so this bill creates a, a board called the voter information verification agency, and it will be comprised of fourteen employees who will work hand in hand with the counties to assist in providing information, education to voters about the transition to a photo ID, and also, and promoting registration of new voters and helping voters who need assistance get an ID. It will coordinate the phase in with other agencies that also do voter outreach, and it will coordinate to outreach at voting sites or polling sites so voters are asked between now and 2016 if they need assistance in getting a photo ID. The act also directs the state board of elections to study the idea of a digital, going digital, that is to create a statewide digital database of photographs and that would include perhaps facial software, recognition software. This also directs the SBOE to report back to the joint legislative elections committee, oversight committee, by April 1st of 2014. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well I'm Tim Moore. I'm the short guy that gets to speak. Good morning. We have a process laid out for the, for the bill to proceed with. It will be filed today. The bill is, there's gonna be a public hearing next Wednesday in the House elections committee. It's expected that the bill will most likely be voted on in committee on April the 17th, and then will either, if it's determined that another referral to another committee is necessary, it would go there or possibly before. We don't have a fiscal note yet and so we'll have to make those determinations once we obtain that. But the, I think most folks would agree this bill has had more discussion before it was an actual bill probably than anything in recent history. And that's been part of the very transparent process and the process seeking public input. And the thought is is that we would be voting on this bill sometime in the April 22nd, 23rd time frame on the House floor. That's our procedure, and we continue to plan to go through the process as we are, transparent and open and seeking public input. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I'd be happy to take any of your questions at this time. Yes ma'am? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yesterday the Secretary of State of ?? was talking about his older father. He said Georgia accepted his expired drivers license. Would this bill also accept expired ID, or only current? [SPEAKER CHANGES] There is a provision in the bill, Laura, that would accept expired IDs. I do not believe it is an unlimited expiration like they do there, but if somebody else wants to speak to that exact point? [SPEAKER CHANGES] That's right, so in order for the ID to be a valid ID under this law, it has to have a date of issuance or a date of expiration. Either or. And the ID would need to be valid from ten years of whatever is later, of the date of issuance or the date of expiration. That's what the legislation's gonna say. No, no, the way that we're treating the elderly, people over 70, I know, you gotta know your audience. Yes, exactly. Who's behind me again? The way we're going to treat folks that are over 70 is if on the date they turn 70

The ID was valid. It will always be valid. So if they are 90 and the ID that they have when they were 70 was valid when they were 70, it's valid, and that's a special provision that we wanted to include for folks over the age of 70. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, sir. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Murry, are you also making special considerations for disabled residents in that plan. [SPEAKER CHANGES] If an individual meets a federal definition for a person with disabilities, and there's a statute in the United States code that helps define that, if they meet that definition, we won't require photo ID. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, sir. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You talked about student ID. ?? Does that mean that it will not be accepted or is this saying ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] At this time as the bill is drafted, that is correct, however I'm sure that's one of the things that will be discussed when the bill is heard in the committee. Yes, sir. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Can we talk more about the statewide photo ?? and we have some sort of equipment in every precinct ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much for that question. The answer is we really don't know. We know that the technology is out there to do this. We think that the best way to proceed is to ask the state board of elections to study this and to help design and develop the guidelines for a program like this and then probably put out a request for a proposal and roll this thing out, but at this time we don't think we've got everything in place to flip the switch and make that occur. Yes, sir. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Is there any ?? election district that's ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, there are states that use all different levels of that. We've worked very closely with the DMV on this and there is now a limited ability to be able to interface and to share all kinds of information including the picture or the birth date or the last 4 of the social, all that stuff is there now, we just need some time to bring it all together. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I think actually to the hearing process, you heard several people come before the committee and talk about what they're doing in Florida, what they're doing in Georgia and a number of other states and I think that what the bill sponsors have done here is identified a lot of individual good practices. What I believe we've got here could be a best practice. It's really pulling together all of the information from DMV, from various government agencies. I think it'll lay the groundwork for better and more accurate voter rolls. So I think what we have here really could be the first comprehensive approach of any state. [SPEAKER CHANGES] And the other thing, and I'll add to this as well. I think it is a great, this photo, the statewide photo database could very well be a great tool to prevent anyone from not being able to access their franchise, and I think this is another key point that we want to make. This is a long process. This January 21, 2016 is when we start requiring a strict photo ID. We've got a long lead time to develop some of the technology for when this bill goes into effect that we've got the proper technology in place and make sure that everybody's franchise is protected. [SPEAKER CHANGES] What did you say were the dates? [SPEAKER CHANGES] January 21, 2016 will be when the strict photo ID, the entire process leading up to that will be when photo IDs are issued. We will do soft launches in the 2014 elections to see who does not have a photo ID and get those folks engaged, enrolled in a program so we can get their photo IDs to them, so there's a long lead in time and that's we're trying to follow the correct process through the Department of Justice and all the different voting rights provisions that we want to make sure we're checking all the boxes throughout the process to get it right so no one loses that franchise. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Absentee provisions start earlier than the photo ID, strict photo ID provisions so I believe that, yes, that is correct. That's

That's what that referred to. So the form, the enhanced procedures for improving integrity in absentee ballot will start in 2014 straight photo ID January 1, 2016. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] It will be a bill that's filed today. We'll make it easy, Bills For Dummies. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] We're putting that on the burden of the individual to identify themselves as financial hardship and so they're going to have to sign a document saying they have financial hardship and so there's some associated, if they say they have financial hardship the same penalties of perjury apply if they misrepresent that. Kelly. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I'm shocked and somewhat appalled that you would imply that this legislature would ever roll out a bill and not have a completely open and democratic process for which a ?? could be thoroughly heard and voted down. No, actually let me speak to that. Representative Moore eluded earlier today we have did exactly what we committed to do. We've listened this entire way through. What we've heard is if you're concerned about the integrity of the election process don't leave absentee out. We didn't. It's in this bill. We've addressed that concern. We've heard don't leave folks behind that don't have an ID. Not only like other states are we going to provide them with the ID at no direct cost to themselves, we're going to have a proactive outreach to reach these folks and to help them get the ID in their hand. So we have in fact had an ongoing dialogue and that will continue I'm sure once the bill is dropped. Yes sir. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] We've not discussed that. My gut reaction would be that just as the governor said in the state of the union if those situations exist now and obviously they do then that is a DMV issue that is perhaps systemic across the entire agency and I am convinced that they are committed to improving upon that. Yes sir. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I do not yet have an estimate of what we project it will cost. Obviously there will be some expenditures that go forth in advertising and informing the people that their going to need these ID's. There will be some expense involved with the outreach program that helps these folks get the ID's. We just don't yet have a hard number and may never in fact have an actual hard number of how many folks we're going to need to help get ID's. Just like in Georgia, they started their program in 2006 and to date they have issued about 29,000 free ID's. Well there is no end date to that. Nor would there be under this bill. And as far as folks that may need to pay for their own I think the cost is about ten bucks. But again if you say you can't pay for it

There's no direct charge to you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Lewis, congratulations on your bill. So we're very happy to see ?? We have concern on vulnerability, expired license. I wanted you to clarify. Somebody, a lot of people, as you know, tens of thousands of people got driver's licenses in 2005 and the ?? who had no proven citizenship. Those licenses are expired. How will this bill prevent them from walking ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] They would be expired more than five years, so they wouldn't. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? licenses. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You have to provide proof when you register to vote. The ID is just to say that you are who you are. But when you go in to register to vote is when you've got to provide the proof that you are eligible to register to vote. So, they walk in with an expired license and they're already registered to vote, would they be able to vote? [SPEAKER CHANGES] If it fits the parameters of the bill as it's proposed. [SPEAKER CHANGES] We have a concern with that area. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well that, Kelley, just to go back to something that you said. We need to make it clear that there are people on the opposite ends of the spectrum on this bill, who have concerns with this bill. And we fully expect when we hear the fifty or so that have signed up to speak up at the next hearing, that we're gonna hear a concern. One made the bill go away, the other one, it doesn't go far enough. And somewhere in between, will be some things that we're willing to address. But make no mistake about it. The core principles that went in to filing this bill are ones that we're staying close to. We will respectfully address the concerns of groups on either end of the spectrum. But we're going to keep this tight and we're going to live up to what we said around the things that I open the conversation with in terms of making sure it passes judicial muster and ensuring that it's a law that it's in effect that respects all of the legitimate concerns that those may have who do not currently have an ID. And then overtime it would be like any other bill. It's never once and done. I'm sure there will be revisions along the way. Just like when we get report back from committees and others on how to better use technology, make the IDs better available, better authentication methods, all this will be incorporated over time. [SPEAKER CHANGES] The other side is saying that it's going to be ?? a lot harder. When I moved into this neighborhood, I had a very tough time getting a license and I had a valid driver's license. I actually ended up going three times because there was ?? that Ohio has ?? licenses than you all have here. I alone had that made, I had to go back certain times. You expect people to keep going and going and going till they get this and get ?? notarized. Sounds like you're just making it harder for people who may not have ?? chance to go get these IDs. To get them. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, and again I would never presume to try to comment on your exact situation. It's my understanding that if you have a valid driver's license issued from another state and then one of a long list of other things, for instance official school records or a social security card. That all that stuff that you, that that meets the DMV threshold to get your ID. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Maybe. There's something else where I keep in mind, is that we're not eliminating. In fact, we're facilitating voting by mail. So let's say you moved here, you're a registered voter, for whatever reason, you're having difficulty getting your driver's license. Whatever information you use, to register to vote for the first time will be sufficient for you to request a mail in ballad and vote by mail. So you don't have to wait in line at the DMV if you're not able to get through when you want to. And you don't have to wait to work out issues or quirks that you may have with the state that you're moving from. So, and in fact I believe they're proposed changes in the bill that even make voting by mail easier by pre-printing a lot of the information you would otherwise have to fill out. And then simply sign and attest to the fact you are who you say you are when you cast your ballad. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Under this legislation, we would accept your Ohio driver's license, if it's valid. And that, and let, for an ID purposes. If it's valid within 10 years. [SPEAKER CHANGES] If this bill, there's a lot of ?? out there making a lot of ?? when voter ID and all the other bills are filed, they haven't been approved yet, how is the average Joe supposed to attach the proposals to all the voter ID legislation or should they not? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, thank you for asking that. The house has been very clear all along, that we wanted to focus on a good voter ID bill. And that's what we've done. That's what we've done through our committee process, through our continued

Seeking of input from the general public, and also from experts from inside and outside our state. And so what I would encourage the public to do is to follow the bills that are actually being heard. Not per chance ones that may be filed and, or the point of being filed. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? Clarify something. ?? early on that the cost of the ?? would be free but it would be the subsequent document that you might need to get that ?? cost money but now the actual ID might not ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] You need an ?? to get the ID or ?? documentation to get the ID. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Both. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? you are paying ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] If you don’t have a financial hardship, you should be able to pay for your ID and pay for your documents. The complaints we had heard is what do you do about the poor or people who can’t do that and so what we’re doing is removing that obstacle, that barrier. So if you have a financial hardship and cannot afford to get your birth certificate in order to get your ID, then this would cover both the cost of the birth certificate and the cost of the ID. [SPEAKER CHANGES] One more question ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] You had said, ?? about ?? how do you police that? How do you make that ?? what is the cutoff ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I will leave that to the attorneys but my understanding is there isn’t a definitive, I’ll let the attorney answer that. Is there a definitive definition of what constitutes that or is it just that they are attesting that that’s their understanding, that they feel that they have a financial hardship? [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? language ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] If we need to clarify it, we can. [SPEAKER CHANGES] One more question. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] We’ve had so many numbers, they were all like in the $10-25 range for depending on, drivers license, there’s the photo ID and then there’s the cost depending on where your birth certificate is, it can cost different amounts to get those other documents but they were all under, as I recall all under $30. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? photo ID ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Correct. And we would pick those up if you have a financial hardship. [SPEAKER CHANGES] The one point I want to make here is that really it is in every citizen’s best interest to have some way to prove their identification, whether they choose to vote or not. It’s in everybody’s best interest to have access to their birth certificate. There’s no more worse crisis when you know you’re about to do something and you can’t do it without a birth certificate, for example. There’s nothing worse than maybe being pulled over and trying to attest to who you say you are and not having any government issued ID to back you up. There are a variety of benefits and I think they’re enabling to the population that currently does not have a valid ID. And we should not lose sight of that. And Laura, to your point, we need to be very crisp on what it means to not be able to pay for it, so that it’s very clear, the rules are very clear. What we’re simply saying is someone who comes in who is clearly able to pay for it, then they like the people who come in and get a driver’s license, should pay the cost. But we do not want to put anyone in a position to where the only reason they can’t get an ID, they can’t get a birth certificate, they can’t get some way to formally identify they are who they say they are, we want to help them do that. And I think that’s a very important benefit to this bill that has nothing to do with voter ID. [BACKGROUND NOISE]