However, there probably isn't a bigger issue on their agenda than a move to force voters to produce identification when they go to vote, informally known as "voter ID." Republicans and politicians on the "right" side of the aisle are mostly for voter ID; Democrats and those on the "left" are not.
Voter ID was one of the most hotly-debated issues in November's general election in the Tar Heel state -- and North Carolina voters spoke with their ballots, sending a supermajority of Republicans to the House and Senate, meaning laws passed by those entities are veto-proof.
However, a veto probably won't be much of an issue over at least the next two years, as N.C. voters also elected a Republican governor and lieutenant governor in November.
One of those GOP legislators returning to Raleigh is N.C. Sen. Louis Pate, a strong advocate for voter ID. Pate has served in both the N.C. Senate and N.C. House.
"I think it's necessary to ensure the integrity of the ballot box," Pate said.
Pate said he has had citizens contact him about voter irregularities in the past.
"I've had citizens offer to write sworn affidavits about how their votes have been stolen from them by someone who had come in earlier and said, 'I'm John Doe and I live at such-and-such address' and they were (allowed) to vote," Pate said. "When the real John Doe showed up, their vote had already been taken from someone else."
Freshman N.C. Rep. George Graham, D-Lenoir, said he sees no need for voter ID. The former longtime Lenoir County Commissioners chairman said he had not heard of any cases in Lenoir County like those brought up by Pate.
"I'm not aware of any violations in Lenoir County, where I've served the last 30 years," Graham said. "I can't think of any situation of voter fraud or any problems with voter registration."
Courtney Patterson, the fourth vice president of the North Carolina NAACP, said laws already on the book -- which require citizens to sign in to vote -- are sufficient.
"The problem isn't voter ID, it's voter suppression," Patterson said. "If you violate the (signature law), you will be imprisoned for five years. ... There's no need for a voter ID law, except to suppress the vote."
In October, when he was crossing North Carolina in an effort to energize the African-American voting bloc for the general election, NAACP President Dr. William Barber addressed voter ID before a standing-room-only crowd at the St. Augustus AME Zion Church.
"We know that voter ID is nothing more than a 21st-century poll tax," Barber said in his Oct. 25 speech. "That's why we stood against it, that's why we won, that's why we beat it back, that's why we don't have it in North Carolina."
However, even Graham recognizes that with the supermajority of Republicans in the N.C. House and N.C. Senate, it's likely the voter ID issue will pass in 2013.
"Based on the way the General Assembly is organized at this point and time ... if (the Republicans) want it to pass, they're going to pass it," Graham said. "What happens after they pass it, though, is a fight in the courts."
Bryan C. Hanks can be reached at 252-559-1074 or at Bryan.Hanks@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter at BCHanks and check out his blog at bhanks.encblogs.com.
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