The North Carolina legislature passed an identification requirement for voters after a constitutional amendment passed on the ballots. How will that change Election Day?
Not as much as some might think. Jessica Terrell from the State Board of Elections said during a voter information seminar Thursday that voters don’t have to present an ID in 2019.
The new law will come into effect for the first time during the 2020 primaries.
Acceptable forms of identification
Voters can present the following photo ID:
» Driver’s license
» Non-operator’s ID
» Passport or passport card
» Military or veteran ID
» Federally recognized tribal card or approved state-recognized tribal card
» Approved state or community college student ID’s
» Employee ID for a state or local government agency, public or charter school, or public university
» Voter ID
Almost all of the ID options cannot be expired for more than a year.
Exceptions are military and tribal IDs - those don’t have expiration dates. Student and employee IDs do not have to have an expiration date until the 2021 election. Voters older than 65 can present a driver’s license that expired after they turned 65. State-recognized tribes, schools and employee identification cards approved by the state can also be used. A list of approved organizations can be found on the North Carolina Board of Elections’ website.
The deadline to seek state approval for IDs is Nov. 1, 2019.
“What if there’s a person who doesn’t have one of those cards, and those were a lot of options. I personally have three options, but there are people who don’t have any, so what do they do?” Terrell said. “We have a new voter ID that is available state-wide. All counties have been able to issue this ID as of May 1.”
Voters can also receive a free photo ID from the county board of elections. To get an ID, an individual must be registered to vote or willing to register before they get their card and fill out a form with their name, date of birth, and the last four digits of their social security number. A headshot will be taken at the board of elections. If the voter was already registered, they will receive their ID immediately. If not, they will receive it via mail in a few days. Cards can be replaced or updated for free at any time.
Voter IDs are valid for 10 years, starting the day a voter requested it. It should be noted that an expired ID is not related to a voter’s status; they would not be considered inactive or taken off the polling book.
The Iredell County Board of Elections can issue a voter ID during their office hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. IDs cannot be issued between the last day of early voting and Election Day.
Voters submitting an absentee ballot will have to attach a copy of valid identification or an affidavit explaining why they can’t.
Such reasons include not having access to a copier.
Change in appearance
If an individual working the polls does not think a voter resembles their picture enough, a group of three will review the individual’s ID. All three have to unanimously agree that the voter doesn’t resemble their photo ID for that voter to use a provisional ballot. During that review, a voter can offer any explanations for a change in appearance like illness or weight loss.
The photo ID requirement is only to confirm a person is who they say they are. If an ID has an address, it does not have to match the one in the poll books.
“Keep in mind that some of those acceptable IDs don’t even have an address, so that’s how you know you should not be comparing the address,” Terrell said.
However, if a voter is taking advantage of same-day registration and early voting, proof of residence is required. One acceptable form of proof of residence is a driver’s license with a current address.
Without an ID
If a voter comes to the polls without an ID, they can still vote. They will fill out a provisional ballot. The ballot will be counted if the voter can provide an ID within the next 10 business days or offer a reasonable explanation for why they don’t have an ID.
Such reasons include:
» Lack of transportation
» Lack of a birth certificate
» Lost or stolen ID
» Waiting to receive an ID
» Religious objection to being photographed
» Natural disaster if the disaster has been officially recognized for the voter’s area
“No one will ever be turned away from the polls or told they can’t vote because they don’t have an acceptable form of ID,” Terrell said. “The provisional ballot system is how any voter who presents to vote, but there’s a question about whether or not they should or shouldn’t be doing it this way, can at least cast their ballot.”