Voter ID Public Hearing: Vote No Was the Overwhelming Message

Yesterday I wrote an article entitled Groundswell of Concern Emerging : Back to Back Legislation Bad for Poor and People of Color (see below). It expressed a number of concerns about the Voter ID that is worth reading. Today I had the opportunity to appear before the Republican House leadership in opposition to the proposed Voter ID legislation. The outpouring of support from all over the state in opposition to this bill was heartwarming. Those of us appearing before House leadership were given three  minutes to talk about the burden this bill would have on the poor, elderly, disabled, and people of color to include African Americans.  Below is my “personal” testimony. If this legislation does pass, there is a lot of work to be done to ensure voter rights are protected and no one is disenfranchised.

Voter ID Public Hearing- Testimony by Patricia Ferguson

My name is Patricia Ferguson. I am from Bertie County, NC. I live in the first Congressional District.

Mr. Chairman, and members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity.

As a little girl I can remember two loving grandparents with a 4th and 7th grade education respectfully, who worked as tenant farmers…share croppers, every day, to make ends meet. Among the many responsibilities they had, was that of raising me to love God, family and my community. Neighborly advice such as do unto others as you would have them do unto you, were powerful life principles that have served me well all of my life.

I can remember a lot of my childhood in northeastern North Carolina before my mom came and got me and took me and my siblings back up North. However, what has puzzled me and racked my brain the most since this VOTER ID legislation surfaced, was the voting rights of my grandparents.

I’d never really thought about it, within this context, until now, because to me, voting rights, was a right, a lot of good, brave and powerful people fought for me to have.

The attention this proposed VOTER ID has brought has touched sensitive memories.  As I noted, as a little girl there are a number of things I remember growing up in rural NC, but what I never remember, is my grandparents voting.

I asked my mother about this- because my grandfather has passed and my grandmother is 98 years young and her memory is not what it used to be, “Did you ever see them vote when you were a little girl?”  She replied, “Never, I think with all the fuss about black people and voting rights; they were probably to afraid to vote.”

In a region of the state with the largest African-American population, and with a growing aging population, enacting a VOTER ID requirement, will have unintended outcomes. Our poorest and most vulnerable will be least likely informed of such a law and thereby turned away at the voting booth and turned away from exercising a right that their citizenship guarantees.

The comments of all of the speakers today, opposing this legislation does hold tremendous merit and I am hopeful you will give thoughtful consideration to our opposition.

Thank you for your time.