Good morning. First, want to thank my colleagues from the House joining me this morning in the press conference. We're here to talk about voter ID and the steps going forward. I think it's pretty clear that the majority, nearly three fourths of North Carolinians believe that some form of ID is an appropriate requirement before they vote. We're here today to talk about the process. We're not here to unveil a piece of legislation. There are various proposals or provisions that are going through the drafting process, but before we get to a bill and a timeline that Representative Lewis will outline, we're gonna go through a very deliberative, responsible, and interactive approach through public hearings, through hearings in the legislature so that we arrive at a policy that is fair, that takes into account legitimate reasons why voters might not have an ID, and to put into place a solution, a way that those IDs can be issued. We'll begin the process this week and we'll go over the course of a month, and I'll let Representative Lewis come up at this time and talk a little bit about the process and the goals of this, at the end of it. David, where are you? Come on up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you mister speaker, and good morning. At the direction of the Speaker, Representative Moore and I as chairs of the House committee on elections are going to announce the following schedule. First of all, next Tuesday, March the 12th, we will hold a public hearing. It will be in room 643. We chose that room because it has the ability, as you know, to broadcast on the web so folks who can't be here can still hear what's said. We will receive whatever remarks wish to be sent forth at that time. On the following day, 3/13, the second elections committee meeting will be held. At that time, it is our intent to have a panel of experts that our staff, our legislative staff has identified who are both pro-voter ID, if you will, and anti-voter ID. We will provide to you a list of the names of the folks that are going to appear as soon as all that is confirmed. The following week on March the 20th you can expect much the same thing. You will also hear. We will also have expert witnesses who come and talk about the issues and also on that week, also, some of the administrative challenges that we may face as we seek to implement this. After that point in time, and without a date certain to provide you, after we have heard from all the stakeholders who want to be involved in this, who want to actively participate in the legislative process sometime after about March 25th you will see a bill filed. That bill will then be heard in the House elections committee, and at the request of the Speaker, the first time that it is heard, there will be no votes. So again, the bill will lie for at least a week so that members of the public and also, members of the general assembly who wish to have input on the content of the bill have the chance to do so. With that said, I hope that we can have a bill before the House sometime the first, second, third week of April, depending on how long it takes us to get through this. With that, with that brief, with that brief outline, I'd like to share just a few other remarks if I could. First of all, we are asking as chairs of the house elections committee and also as folks who care very deeply about making sure that whatever bill emerges dealing with requiring a photo ID to vote is the very best bill that it can be. We are asking our colleagues in the House who do not support this bill, the various outside groups who have made it clear through their historic and continuing opposition
to this bill, we are asking them to help us. We are asking them to come to the table and seriously talk about an issue that is very important to us. I think it's important to note that the folks that are standing behind me made a commitment when we ran for office that we were going to seek to implement a photo ID system for those who go to vote and we are doing this because we believe that the integrity of the election system itself is important. We are doing this so that every North Carolinian, every citizen who's entitled to vote, has the opportunity to do so and that that vote counts. That vote, those cumulative votes, are who selects those that serve because those that serve are the ones that ultimately make the laws and make the policies that affect all of our lives. You will see, obviously, a great deal of debate one way or the other on this. We are, we stand ready to listen and to work with those who want to legitimately talk about this very important issue. And with that, Mr. Speaker, I'll yield to any questions. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes sir. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Richard had a great point about tax performance and he had a gold [??] standard, maybe it's silver and bronze. What's the gold standard for you and your [??] policy in terms of photo ID? [SPEAKER CHANGES] The gold standard is that every citizen of this state who is able to vote, who is lawfully allowed to vote, has what they need to be able to go to the polls and vote and participate in the process. That's the gold standard and that's where we're going to get with this bill. Yes sir, Mr. Christens? [SPEAKER CHANGES] You're obviously not coming to this fresh because the legislature's already test a better ideal so you already have some fairly good ideas about the issues here. You have some overriding thoughts about how you want to [??] in terms of making sure that people who get a federal ID that they'll have a driver's license, how are you going to accommodate that on cost, how are you going to address those kinds of issues? Going into this process obviously you're going to work through these issues but starting out this process do you have some overall thoughts of how you would like to, at least, address some of these questions? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, thank you for that. We have begun the steps required, and you know that the legislative process is sometimes slow and sometimes seems to take longer than folks would expect for it to. We are trying to cover every base that we can, trying to look at how many North Carolina voters may actually need ID's and to really have an aggressive outreach program to help them get them. So, I don't have a direct response yet because there area ll kinds of options and, frankly, it might be a combination of outreach programs that we use to make sure that the voters who currently do not have a photo ID have a way to get one at no direct cost to themselves. Yes sir? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Do you anticipate that the legislation will be a stand-alone photo ID bill or that there will be, [??] a few years ago we saw Omnibus elections fall [??] changed bill. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I think that it will be a stand-alone bill in terms of photo ID, with one exception. Part of the legislative process is listening to the concerns that are expressed. One of the concerns that has been expressed is that we need to take a look at the way in which absentee votes are asked for and
Speaker: And then cast and i do think that we will do that and we will also address that concern in this bill yes sir, Speaker Changes: ??, Speaker Changes: i really don't know all i can tell you is that as far as organizing groups as far as anyone who cares north Carolina voters participate in the process is appreciated, Speaker Changes: ??, Speaker Changes: i think tat will be a part of the legislative process that we need to work through we need to know there is obviously lot of moving parts to this so really don't have a firm answer to give you as long as the what actual effective date it would be other than i think i can speak for those behind me we do have a commitment to move to a point where a photo id is required to vote yes sir, Speaker Changes: ??, Speaker Changes: thank you about that question one think i have learned over the past few years is that nearly everyone you ask has an opinion own voter id with that in mind we want folks to come with their ideas and express their concerns by the ?? the need for the those have concerns waits for it they can certainly use the bill that was passed last year that's a point of reference if they desire but i think the issue is broadly understood enough and with the commitment the final bill wont be done until these issue are heard i think that we don't want to limit at this point and the scope of discussion on the concept of voter id because we don't know where the next great idea will come from we certainly don't think that all of the from ideas in the state are contained among the 120 members of the house yes sir, Speaker Changes: ??, Speaker Changes: it was around opening day and what i gotta say is we are gonna put together a bill make sure that people who have legitimate reason not have an idea today but we do it everyone together voter id but our goal has been ?? where we have id's that authenticate the voter and moving forward to do lot of example i think the one example in this particular discussion with reporters we have this process that required by federal law take provisional ballots and so your are technically at the time the ballot is filed making a provisional vote without an id and are talking about the process which the go back and authenticate the id that invalidate their provisional ballot hat one example for what technically you may not have the idea of vote but you will have some authentication for that vote to be recorded , Speaker Changes: ??, Speaker Changes: we have consistently tried to pinpoint that the truth is no one know what i can tell you is that in Georgia which implemented this program in ??
fix from the time that they implemented it where they said we will provide for you, at no charge to yourself, a free photo ID, they have issued less than 27,000 ID's in this six year time frame. And we think that our state demographics are very, very similar to Georgia, and as such that may be a good number for us to look at. But we're still in the process of trying to see all of the ways that we may be able to match the current voter rolls with some form of photo ID. So we don't know exactly-, and no one will ever be able to tell you the exact amount. Just let me reiterate our commitment that everyone who wants to vote, everyone who's entitled to vote, we will do everything we can in reaching out to them to make sure they get the ID that they need. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Just a follow-up on that. Do you have a sense of what this might end up costing? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Obviously we don't know an exact cost. We feel it is important that the people have faith in the integrity of the system and I don't mean to make light of that at all but I think the absence of that, if we can restore some confidence in folks, I really think that is priceless. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You talked about the process, you're asking for the opposition to come to the table, you're talking about a very deliberate overtime. Is that because of what happened last time when this was passed? Give me your reasoning in trying to make that very clear. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you for that. Let me be clear. I understand, and we understand, there are some members and there are some organizations that are going to be opposed to voter ID on principle period, and we respect that, but we intend, because we think the integrity of the elections are important enough to move forward with this, so what we're going to do and what we have been doing is to reach out and say, "Folks, with the understanding that this is a bill that we're going to move forward, give us your, we get that you don't like it but give us your input on how we can make it the best bill it can be." Yes sir? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Given what occurred in the last few weeks with the [??] documents, I know they didn't come from [??], there seems to be maybe a lack of, there may be a lack of trust, maybe an issue, between the two dies. Do you think you can overcome some of the things that have been said in some of those documents to believe that people would come to you genuinely interested in trying to make the bill better? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Not only do I believe that, I've already seen that. I've had an outreach from the House Minority Caucus and they have expressed to me a desire to have input on the bill, not that they will support the bill in the end, but they have already made those kind of outreach, that kind of outreach to me. We have many of the outside groups who follow election-type issues who have also said, "We'd like to be a part of this," and so yes, I do think that everyone understand that they have a chance to input and to help shape the final bill that will emerge. Yes sir? [SPEAKER CHANGES] It might be a rules question but is this bill going to be written in such a way that it can make the leap from election straight to the floor or do you see it going through regulatory reform, general government, or, how do you see this bill going? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Can I speak to the first part of that? Just so that, the Speaker has made it very clear to the Chairs of Elections that this bill will not be rushed. As I've already said, we will have at least one committee hearing in which the bill is before us to be discussed without a vote.
The idea would be, it would then lay until the next week, in which possibly we would then be able to vote it out. Maybe get it on the floor the next day, but with the idea that there would be an objection to the third reading, the bill would also lay over the weekend, so folks would have the chance to see it. I'll let the rules chair speak. It is my understanding and my direction so far that this, this bill would not need to be referred. [SPEAKER CHANGES] The, the only question would be going back to the point that Laura raised Kelly, that if, depending on the economic impact that we assess, it may potentially go into an appropriations committee. It could go into a finance committee because of the, the ultimate content of the bill. At this time, it's been referred to elections. We'll make our decision based on what comes out of this process. [SPEAKER CHANGES] If there. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Any other questions. Well again, Representative Lewis and I thank him for the work he did last session, the work he's doing here. We are going to move in a very deliberative, responsible manner. We're looking for feedback from anyone who wants to engage productively. If you have any questions on the matter, I'd suggest you use Representative Lewis as the point of contact. Thank you for coming.