The North Carolina State Election Board held a webinar Wednesday for the media to discuss the changes with the new photo ID requirement when voting.
Voters will be asked to show photo ID when voting in the state starting with the municipal elections this fall.
Early voting begins on Oct. 19 in 385 municipalities across North Carolina. About 465 cities, towns, and villages in 86 counties are conducting elections this November. The early voting period runs from Thursday until Saturday, Nov. 4.
If voters aren’t sure where to vote, they can use the voter search tool on the NCSBE website and look up their sample ballot. If they don’t have a sample ballot attached to their voter record, they are not eligible to vote for any contests in November.
A photo ID requirement was added to the state’s constitution in 2018, but there have been various legal cases against it. 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 Apr. 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.
Karen Brinson Bell, Executive Director of the State Board of Elections, said they immediately got to work after the April ruling getting things in place, but it has been a challenge rolling out new ID-making equipment due to the injunction that took place back in 2019.
“We had rolled that out, but if you think about that, we’re talking about equipment that’s now five years old, and in the technology world, that was something that we had to turn around very quickly and make sure it was available because that’s one of the requirements within the law,” she said.
When voters go to the polls, they will be asked for a form of photo identification, such as a driver’s license. Other common forms of acceptable ID include military or veterans ID cards issued by the federal government and college student and public employer ID cards that the board has approved for use in voting. A detailed list of acceptable ID’s can be found on the NCSBE Voter ID web page.
Any voter who does not have an acceptable form of ID can still get one through their county board of elections between now and the end of the early voting period on Nov 4. A voter will provide their name, date of birth, and last four of their Social Security number and have their photo taken.
If voters don’t have an ID when they vote, they can still vote a provisional ballot and fill out an ID exception form. Voters can also vote and then return to the county board of elections after Election Day and before the county canvas, which is the 10th day after Election Day, and show an ID to have their ballot counted.
Voters who vote by mail will include a photocopy of their ID when they return their ballot or can also fill out an ID exception form explaining why they can’t include a photocopy of their ID with their ballot.
A question was raised about a driver’s license or any other acceptable form of ID not having a matching address that is in the voter registration records. Paul Cox, general counsel to NCSBE, said that poll workers would not be looking at addresses on the ID, only the picture, to see if it resembles the person in line to vote. He said the state statute states that the address on your photo ID does not have to match the address in the voter registration records. In that case, voters will receive a regular ballot, not a provisional one.
Bell said things have been running smoothly with the new photo ID requirement. There were no major issues for elections in Charlotte, Sanford in September, and some municipalities in October. Most voters have presented driver’s licenses and other forms of ID, including university ID’s, and very few had voted with provisional ballots or exception forms.
She also credited the media, social media, and county board of elections workers for helping get the word about the new requirement since they didn’t have an advertising budget with the state budget being held up for months. She said now that it is in place, they are glad to have the funding to do a robust outreach campaign, and some of that will go towards advertising, community events, and mailers that will have a broader reach.
Regarding the 2024 campaign season, Bell said they are still working on specifics but plan to use mailers since they worked well with a previous judicial voter guide and will also do some cross-matching and some community outreach.
A reporter asked if the NCSBE’s budget process was complicated by the legislature’s requirements that some of the funding has to go to the Voter ID process and fund some changes in S.B. 747, Election Law Changes, along with lawsuits challenging it.
Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the bill, but the General Assembly overrode that veto on Oct. 10. It requires, among other measures, that election day be the deadline for absentee votes. It also bans private groups from covering some elections’ administrative costs and clarifies the rights and duties of election observers.
Bell said regarding the budget that they didn’t receive everything they requested but will make the best use of what they have been provided.
Regarding the Voter ID requirements and changes with S.B. 747 that will go into effect in January, they are mapping out a plan to do that.
“If we see that there needs to still be more outreach, we’ll go and have those conversations with our legislators and see if they can consider further appropriations during the short session or into the next biennium,” she said. “So I think that’s another thing that’s on us. To effectively track, keep metrics and be able to articulate to the legislators how these budget dollars are being applied and the effective use and what results we’re seeing and we’ll certainly do that as we go into the primary, and that’ll give us the opportunity to see if we need to make a further request or anything like that to be ready for the general election.”