Voting is a fundamental right for citizens in North Carolina, and to ensure the integrity of the electoral process, the state has implemented changes to its voter ID requirements. Starting from the next election, voters will be asked to show photo ID when voting. While this might raise some questions and concerns, it is essential to understand the details of these changes to ensure all eligible voters can participate in the democratic process.
**Acceptable Photo IDs for Voting:**
The most common photo ID that voters can use is their North Carolina driver’s license. However, there are several other acceptable forms of photo IDs, including:
1. State ID from the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV)
2. Driver’s license or non-driver ID from another state, District of Columbia, or U.S. territory if the voter registered in North Carolina within 90 days of the election.
3. U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport card
4. North Carolina voter photo ID card issued by a county board of elections (available soon)
5. College or university student ID approved by the State Board of Elections
6. State or local government or charter school employee ID approved by the State Board of Elections
7. Military or veterans ID card issued by the U.S. government
8. Tribal enrollment card issued by a recognized tribe
9. ID card issued by an agency of the U.S. government or the State of North Carolina for a public assistance program.
**Free Photo ID Cards:**
For those voters who do not already possess an acceptable photo ID, there’s good news. The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV) provides free non-driver’s ID cards. Any North Carolina resident can obtain one by visiting the DMV. Additionally, county boards of elections will soon offer free voter photo IDs to registered voters in their counties. To obtain a free voter photo ID card, the voter must provide their name, date of birth, and the last four numbers of their Social Security number, and have their photo taken.
**No Voter Will Be Turned Away:**
It is important to note that even if a voter does not have an acceptable photo ID, they will still be allowed to vote. They can vote with an ID Exception Form, which allows them to explain the reason for not presenting an ID. The permissible reasons include:
– Lack of transportation
– Disability or illness
– Lack of birth certificate or other documents needed to obtain ID
– Work schedule
– Family responsibilities
– Lost or stolen photo ID
– Photo ID applied for but not yet received
– Unable to attach a copy of photo ID (for mail voters only)
– Other reasonable impediments
For in-person voting, voters must show an acceptable photo ID when they check in at their voting site during early voting or on Election Day. Election workers will check if the picture on the ID reasonably resembles the voter. The address on the photo ID does not need to match the voter registration records.
However, if a voter does not have an acceptable ID during in-person voting, they still have options. They can either vote with an ID Exception Form and a provisional ballot or vote with a provisional ballot and return to their county board of elections office with their photo ID by the specified deadline.
For voters who choose to vote by mail, they must include a photocopy of an acceptable ID inside the “photo ID envelope” that comes with their ballot. If they are unable to include a copy of their photo ID, they can fill out an ID Exception Form with the absentee ballot return envelope.
**ID Exceptions Count:**
The county boards of elections must count provisional ballots with properly completed ID Exception Forms, ensuring that no eligible votes are left uncounted.
Overall, the voter ID changes aim to protect the integrity of the electoral process while ensuring that every eligible citizen can exercise their right to vote. If any voter faces challenges obtaining a photo ID, the option for an ID Exception Form ensures they can still cast their ballot without hindrance. The state’s commitment to offering free photo ID cards and accepting various forms of identification demonstrates their dedication to accessibility and inclusivity in the voting process.