Readers of one of North Carolina’s leading news websites recently encountered an article documenting a stark political divide over photo identification for voters.

New state voter ID rules mark a “victory for conservatives” and a “setback for progressives and civil rights activists,” according to an Aug. 25 report from Will Doran at

But people who read the entire article might have reached a different conclusion.

The report highlighted recent legal fights over voter ID, including the state Supreme Court’s April decision to uphold the ID law approved in 2018. Doran dutifully reported ID critics’ “fear” about the impact on turnout among black voters.

“Past studies have shown that even though most people do have photo identification, people who lack IDs are disproportionately Black — and, particularly, tend to be older Black residents,” he wrote, without citing any studies or providing additional context.

Yet that’s not what grabbed this reader’s attention. Check out the next line in Doran’s piece. It offers more information about “older Black residents.”

“Many of the people who cast the state’s very first ballots using the new voter ID rules fit that exact demographic, and several told WRAL they didn’t mind the new rules.”

The article then quotes two early voters.

“‘They need to make sure you are who you say you are,’ said William Richardson, one of the first 10 people to cast a ballot in Sanford’s ongoing city council primary.

“Another Sanford Democrat and early voter, Tennessee Richmond, has a long history of participating in local elections. She also said she had no problems adjusting to the new process.

“‘No, no, it was just fine,’ she said.”

That’s not the type of reaction one would expect to a controversial law — a law designed to disenfranchise Democrats and entrench Republicans in power.

It is the type of reaction one might expect toward a common-sense measure. More than 30 states use voter ID, including the entire Southeast. One would need to drive north to Maryland, northwest to Illinois, or all the way west to New Mexico to find the closest states with no voter ID requirement.

While Republicans wrote North Carolina’s voter ID law, people with a range of political views support the concept. More than 2 million people, 55% of the total, decided in 2018 that a photo ID requirement should be included in North Carolina’s state constitution.

When the John Locke Foundation’s Civitas Poll last asked the question in May, nearly 66% of likely general election voters agreed that “every person that votes in person in North Carolina should present photo identification before voting.” Just 23% disagreed. Some 54% of voters “strongly” agreed with the voter ID requirement, compared to 16% who strongly disagreed.

Support hit 72% among men and 60% among women. Partisans split on the issue, with 95% of Republicans endorsing voter ID, compared to just 37% of Democrats. Unaffiliated voters, who outnumber members of both parties, supported the concept by a margin of 67% to 18%.

Among racial groups, voter ID was most popular among whites (72%). But support outweighed opposition in every racial category. Even among black voters, the supposed targets of the Republicans’ efforts, 45% of likely voters endorsed voter ID while 33% opposed it.

Critics downplay ID supporters’ argument that the photo requirement boosts voters’ faith in election integrity. The same Civitas Poll shines light on the issue.

Slightly less than 51% of likely general election voters believe “this year’s elections in North Carolina will be free and fair.” A disturbing 31% disagree.

Almost 63% of those surveyed said an ID requirement made them more confident about the “fairness and accuracy” of this state’s elections. A quarter of voters said the ID requirement would make no difference in their assessment of fair elections. Just 10% said a photo ID rule would make them feel less confident about fair, accurate elections.

That 10% number bodes ill for those making outlandish claims about the ID requirement.

It’s also important to remember that elections boards led by Democrats are implementing voter ID in all 100 counties. If ID rules hurt Democrats, we’re bound to hear about it.

One suspects that most local officials take the same view as Jane Rae Fawcett, the Lee County elections director quoted at She “didn’t anticipate any problems for now.”

“If we have any problems, we should be able to handle those pretty quickly,” she said. “And I don’t think there will be, since these days most people have ID.”

Most people also appear to judge voter ID more favorably than the small chorus of vocal critics.

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation.