Free Photo IDs For NC Voters Available From DMV

NORTH CAROLINA – The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles is now offering free photo identification cards for voters.

Beginning in 2016, North Carolina voters will be required to show photo IDs at the polls as part of legislation passed in 2013 which significantly reformed elections laws.

Marge Howell, of the DMV Communications Office, says that the free photo ID cards are available for people who have no other valid forms of photo identification.

“We are inviting anyone who needs a voter ID card, which is a photo ID, to come into any driver’s license office and apply for that ID card,” Howell says.

Accepted forms of photo identification will include unexpired NC driver’s license; a military or veterans ID; and an unexpired US passport, among other options.

“There are several forms of IDs that the State Board of Elections does accept, and if anyone has any of these, they would not need to get a Voter ID card from the DMV,” Howell says.

Applications for the free voter ID cards can be made at any North Carolina DMV driver’s license office.

Applicants will need to provide a valid Social Security number and present documents that verify their age and identity.

Howell says that producing the free voter ID cards are not costly for the DMV to produce.

“These are the same kinds of ID cards that are produced on a daily basis by the DMV. We produce driver’s license cards and other ID cards. The [Voter ID] cards are the very same identification cards that we have issued for several years.”

Backers of the Voter ID Law have said it will protect against voter fraud, but opponents say it is discriminates against minority voters.

As part of the sweeping reforms to the state’s election laws, some changes are taking effect this year. Now, the state’s early voting period has been shortened from 17 days to 10 days; same-day registration is no longer available (registration ends 25 days prior to an election); out-of-precinct voting on election day is no longer allowed; the procedure for absentee ballots has changed; and straight-party voting has been eliminated, among other changes.

The State of North Carolina currently faces several state and federal lawsuits questioning the legality of the election law changes. The cases will likely be tied up in court for a lengthy amount of time.

A list of photo IDs that will be acceptable for voting is available on the State Board of Elections’ website.

NC DMV has posted the requirements and documents acceptable for the Voter ID card on its website.

NC Election Process Likely To See Big Changes

Pictured: Moral Monday Protest; photo by Rachel Nash

RALEIGH – The Senate backed sweeping changes in the election process Wednesday evening that will likely alter the way we vote in North Carolina. The bill proposes significant changes to the state’s current election laws and also requires photo I.D.’s at the polls.

House Bill 589  was revamped by Senate Republicans Tuesday to include provisions that go beyond a voter I.D. requirement. The new version of the bill shortens the early voting period in general elections from 17 to 10 days, prohibits counties from extending early voting hours on the Saturday before Election Day to accommodate crowds, eliminates same-day voter registration during early voting, and eliminate straight-ticket voting, among other provisions.

One form of identification that would not be accepted is student I.D.’s and some believe this is targeting the collegiate vote. Protesters, including UNC students, have been rallying  and even arrested at the General Assembly this week, outraged because of this bill.

UNC Student Body President Christy Lambden says he is concerned about how these possible changes will affect his peers’ access to the polls.

“I’m disappointed to see the introduction of the Voter I.D. Bill, especially if a student I.D. is not counting a valid form of voter I.D,” Lambden says.

Reverend William Barber of the state NAACP says in a statement: “These policies will be the most race-based, regressive and unconstitutional attacks on voting rights of the citizens of North Carolina that we have seen since the implementation of Jim Crow laws…”

Backers of the bill say that photo identification will cut down on voting fraud, whereas opponents of the bill say it is a strike against the more liberal groups, like student voters.

“Anything that is putting a constraint on voting and making it harder for students to vote, as I think this will, I think means that student voice is not going to be heard and that is ultimately troubling for me as a student representative,” Lambden says.

The election law changes normally would have been subject to authorization under the Voting Rights Act, but the Supreme Court’s recent decision exempted North Carolina from federal review until a new process is created by Congress.

“I think the state legislature needs to focus on maximizing student participation in the election process and I think to do that, they need to make sure that students can vote as easily as possible,” Lamden says.

A final vote of concurrence is expected in the Senate on Thursday. If passed, it will then go back to the House for a final vote and finally head to the desk of Governor Pat McCrory.