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Senate backs voter ID bill

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Update: House Bill 589 passed by a 32-14 vote Wednesday evening, giving key approval to legislation that changes how voting will be conducted in North Carolina. A final vote is expected Thursday.

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Jay DeLancy with the Voter Integrity Project believes House Bill 589 could pass the North Carolina Senate as early as Thursday.

The bill has already passed the House.

DeLancy’s group has been pushing for voter ID regulations after searching for examples of voter fraud throughout the state.

DeLancy said the bill isn’t perfect, but it’s close.

“We wanted this law to be in place for the 2014 election. Instead we have another election in which we have to fight fraud,” DeLancy said.

The bill’s main change to election law is that it would require any and all in-person voters to show a valid picture identification to vote.

It also shortens the early voting period from 17 to 10 days, eliminates Sunday voting, eliminates same-day registration and voting, and may move the state’s presidential primaries up by as much as two months from May to March.

Guilford County Director of Elections Charlie Collicutt said his employees will need new training if this bill becomes a law, and the County will need to look at allocating additional resources.

According to Collicutt, twice as many people voted early in Guilford County as voted on Election Day in 2012.

If the same number of people try to vote in 10 days instead of 17, Collicutt said, it could only mean longer lines.

As for fraud, Collicutt said it hasn’t happened in Guilford County.

“That doesn’t mean it isn’t happening, but we just haven’t seen anything like that here in Guilford County,” Collicutt said.

That’s exactly why opponents hate House Bill 589, which they have labeled a voter suppression bill.

Catherine Medlock-Walton with Working America in Greensboro said it creates unnecessary barriers to the fundamental American right to vote.

“Even if we have three years to get ready for it, it’s still a bad bill,” Medlock-Walton said. “It’s just a lot of hurdles and hoops to deal with that you shouldn’t have to deal with to go vote.”

House Bill 589 is awaiting a second vote in the Senate. If it passes it will head to a conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions.

After that process, it will hit Governor Pat McCrory’s desk.

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