Letters to the Editor April 7, 2013

Apr. 06, 2013 @ 04:32 PM

When it comes to voter ID, we’re aiming for 100 percent

In these days of deep political division, there aren’t too many issues on which more than 75 percent of the electorate agrees. Requiring voters to show photo identification at the polling place is one of them.

A voter ID bill filed this past week by me and three of my House colleagues supports the will of the vast majority of North Carolina citizens, who want to have more confidence in the fairness and integrity of our elections. At the same time, it addresses the reasonable concerns of the 25 percent who oppose a voter ID requirement.

Under the bill, a wide variety of photo IDs would be accepted, including those up to ten years past their expiration date. A senior with a valid ID card at age 70 would be able to use that ID card indefinitely, regardless of expiration date. The bill exempts disabled people from the ID requirements, and it provides a means for those who can’t afford a photo ID to get one for free.

Voters who come to the polls on Election Day without an ID would cast provisional ballots. They’d then have to return to their local elections board office and show proof of their identity to have their provisional ballot counted.

Under the terms of the bill, the ID requirement would not take full effect until Jan. 2016, but efforts to get the word out about it will begin immediately. The State Board of Elections would appoint up to five citizens to serve on a non-partisan Voter Information Verification Advisory board. The VIVA board would be supported by up to 14 new state elections board employees whose job through Dec. 31, 2016 would be to identify voters without a proper ID and help them get one.

Through weeks of public hearings and committee meetings, we believe we’ve crafted a bill that strikes the right balance between the public’s interest in ensuring the integrity of our elections and in limiting barriers to voting.

But there’s still time for input. On Wednesday, we’ll hold another public hearing in Raleigh at the Legislative Office Building. I’m especially interested in hearing about how we can make it as easy as possible for voters who don’t have photos IDs to get them. If you can’t be there, please contact me or your own state House representative with your thoughts on the issue.

Through this process, I’m not sure if we’ll change the minds of the any of the 25 percent who have opposed voter ID. But I am confident that when this bill goes into effect, 100 percent of the people who want to vote will be able to cast a ballot.

Rep. Ruth Samuelson

House District 104

Republican Conference Leader


Why not same justice for Pinky Marsh?

I read with great interest that Frank Howey Jr., local farmer, applied for a zoning permit to build a commercial grain operation on a 34-acre tract on Hwy. 74 — just outside Wingate City limits.  The Town of Wingate Board of Commissioner’s and adjacent property owners opposed the plan, which would include a grain bin 140 feet high that would overlook the campus of Wingate University. Later, Mr. Howey withdrew his petition for a zoning permit citing his plan fell under a “bona fide farm purpose” and therefore did not need a zoning permit. After consulting with attorney’s representing the Town of Wingate, Mayor Bill Braswell, conceded Howey’s plan complies with state law defining “bona fide farm purpose.” This new grain handling facility is currently under construction.

North Carolina General Statute §106-581.1 states in detail the definition of a “bona fide farm.” Any decision made on an issue concerning a “bona fide farm” has to be based entirely on STATE or FEDERAL law.  “NO” local government has governing authority over a “bona fide farm.” I don’t understand why the attorney’s for the Town of Wingate are able to read and understand without doubt the definition of “bona fide farm purpose,” while attorney’s that are representing Union County against Thomas (Pinky) Marsh refuse to recognize they have no authority.

In the case of Thomas (Pinky) Marsh versus Union County involving the use of his personal land for a rodeo, Union County had “NO” authority to block his rodeo at the conception, yet here he is years later still fighting for his rights as a landowner that were taken away by either ignorance of the law or belligerence by the county.  The county has consistently fought his request completely ignoring the North Carolina General Statutes  §106-581.1, which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt, they have “NO” governing authority. Years of fighting this erroneous arbitrary decision has financially cost Mr. Marsh the loss of a 100-year family farm and many years of personal anguish. Place yourself in his position and think how you would feel if the county took your land rights away strictly because their attorney’s ignored the interpretation of the law. Was this done due to ignorance or intelligence of the law, you decide?

Reid Phifer