As deadline approaches for college IDs, UNC system stuck in neutral


Jerry Wayne Williamson at WataugaWatch has been all over this:

As part of its new Voter ID Bill, the state legislature determined that university IDs would qualify as valid proof of identity at the polls as long as the universities complied with certain criteria (Senate Bill 824). The State Board of Elections created both rules and a form for certifying compliance with this criteria. The "attestation form" must be signed by university officials no later than March 15th to qualify a university’s student IDs as valid proof of identity. If the attestation form is not signed by March 15th, that university’s student IDs will not count as valid proof of identity for elections through 2020.

Turns out the universities have now banded together under the interpretations offered by Thomas C. Shanahan, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the UNC system, to refuse to sign the attestation, regardless of whether an individual university can comply or not. If none comply, then individual university leadership is insulated. If one or more do comply, the others are exposed for harsh criticism.

I know what you're going to say before you say it, but if the recent ruling voiding the Voter ID Amendment gets overturned, that original deadline (March 15) will still be in effect. The fault for this conundrum lies solely on the shoulders of Republicans in the General Assembly, who (as usual) pushed too far with their legislation on requirements for college ID's to "comply" with their unnecessary restrictions on voting:

In an attempt to get control of the narrative, on Friday, February 22, Mr. Shanahan weighed in on the “attestation crisis.” Shanahan told a meeting of professors in Chapel Hill that while the system seeks to promote UNC students’ ability to vote, none of the 16 campuses currently meets requirements that the law demands of universities for student identification cards to count as valid voting identification.

Let me repeat that: According to Mr. Shanahan yesterday, none of the 16 campuses currently meets requirements for voter photo ID.

After the law was passed (one wonders, why not before?), Shanahan explained, the UNC system office consulted with campuses across the UNC system (most of that consultation was likely lawyer-to-lawyer). He stated that the requirements that must be met for attestation were steep. And chancellors, he repeatedly emphasized, must, according to the law, make this attestation under penalty of perjury. (More on those requirements in subsequent posts, but I will note here that lying on any such legal document would be under penalty of perjury. So what?)

After saying he has consulted with the 16 campuses, Shanahan concluded that “no institution meets the requirements” under the voter ID law. For Shanahan, the question is whether campuses are actually already doing the things the law expects them to do. As he put it, “Do [campuses] have these procedures so they can say substantively, ‘Yes, we are doing this’?”

I don't know what the cure for this is. JW has (rightly) pointed out that there's no reason why Appalachian State can't go ahead and sign the attestation letter, that compliance, while it may be a pain in the ass, is definitely doable. But what would happen (worst case scenario) if, come the 2020 election, App State's student ID's are valid for voting, but UNC Charlotte's (or Chapel Hill's) student ID's aren't?

Methinks somebody should file (another) lawsuit to invalidate or extend that March 15 deadline. Or something along those lines.