On Monday, the North Carolina State Board of Elections approved 99 student and employee identification cards across the state for use in the 2023 municipal elections and 2024 primary and general elections.

Voters will be asked to show photo ID when voting in the state starting with the municipal elections this fall.

A photo ID requirement was added to the state’s constitution in 2018, but there have been various legal cases against it, the most recent in December 2022. Democrats had held a 4-3 Democratic majority in the N.C. Supreme Court in December.

A 5-2 ruling from the now Republican-led state high court on April 28 overturned the ruling from the same court in December. 

Both rulings involved party-line votes from the justices.

The NCSBE responded to the April ruling by preparing to implement the ID law for 2023.

The newly approved IDs include student IDs for all UNC System schools, community colleges, private colleges and universities, employee IDs for other educational institutions, charter schools, and some county governments. 

Andy Jackson, director of the Civitas Center for Public Integrity at the John Locke Foundation said the student IDs will likely have more of an impact. 

“It is especially true for out-of-state students who otherwise would not have an acceptable ID (driver’s licenses from other states are only acceptable if the person had registered to vote within 90 days of the election),” he said. “So, students from, for example, New Jersey or Pennsylvania, will be able to vote in North Carolina. State law only requires residency 25 days before election day, so most out-of-state students qualify before October or November elections.”

All approved IDs must include a photograph, which will be used to confirm a person’s identity when they check in to vote.

In addition to having a picture, the student ID card must have an expiration date and be issued after enrollment and confirm the student’s identity using social security number, citizenship status, and birth date to be a qualified form of ID.

The IDs of six institutions that sought approval of their student or employee identification were not approved for use in the 2023 municipal elections because they lack expiration dates, which are required by state law. These institutions can re-apply in the additional application period for the 2024 elections.

In addition to these IDs, voters can use an ID already accepted at polling places, like a North Carolina driver’s license. Other acceptable types of photo ID are also listed on the NCSBE’s website under the Voting heading and then Voter ID

The newly approved cards will remain valid as a voter’s photo ID through Dec. 31, 2024. The State Board will announce additional ID application periods for the 2024 elections in the coming months.

If a voter does not have an acceptable photo ID, they can get one for free from the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV). 

If an in-person voter does not provide an acceptable ID, the voter may fill out a Photo ID Exception Form (PDF) and vote a provisional ballot, or vote a provisional ballot and bring an acceptable ID to the county board of elections office by the day before the county canvass.

Voters who vote by mail will be asked to include a photocopy of an ID with their ballot or complete a Photo ID Exception Form for Absentee Voting (PDF). The photocopy will be mailed in a special envelope to protect the voter’s personal information on their ID.

NCSBE also said in their press release that voters will also be able to get a free ID card from their county board of elections. They will let the public know as soon as county boards of elections can print the IDs.

Arguments over voter ID, however, are not over. Critics and supporters of North Carolina’s voter identification law will head to a federal courtroom on July 26 in Greensboro. A status conference that morning will help determine how a three-year-old federal lawsuit will proceed.

Voter ID opponents filed paperwork on June 9 requesting the status conference. They also asked a federal judge to lift a stay that has kept their lawsuit in limbo since December 2021.