****UPDATE: Officials said on Wednesday evening that all campuses had submitted the required paperwork.****
UNC System officials now say all campuses will ask that student identification cards be accepted as valid voter IDs for upcoming elections in North Carolina.
Voters approved an amendment last fall adding a requirement to show a photo identification to vote in person, and lawmakers then wrote the new implementing legislation in December. Hearings were held involving university officials from across North Carolina during that legislative process to allow for student ID cards to qualify as an individual’s voter ID.
But concern was mounting as none of the university campuses had submitted the required paperwork to the state elections board approaching a deadline this week. There had been some initial hesitation from UNC System’s legal counsel as to whether the university ID cards actually met the specifications required by the new law.
UNC System senior vice president and General Counsel Tom Shanahan released a statement on Wednesday saying that all system campuses would be submitting paperwork to the state elections officials.
“The UNC System office has been working closely with each of our 17 institutions and with the State Board of Elections and General Assembly to determine a path towards approval of student and employee identification cards as accepted forms of Voter ID. We expect each of our 17 institutions will likely send in letters by today’s deadline requesting approval from the State Board of Elections. We are hopeful that the Board will approve those requests and agree with what we believe is both the legislative intent and the legislative requirement for these identification cards. Interim President Roper has made clear that the UNC System remains ironclad in its commitment to enabling our campus communities to vote. We will continue to work with all our partners to ensure there are no barriers for our students and employees at the voting booth.”
Republicans in the General Assembly, meanwhile, are fast-tracking legislation that would delay the implementation of the new Voter ID legislation until the 2020 presidential primary. That comes as the state is working through two special elections to fill congressional seats – the 9th District, where the 2018 election was deemed tainted and a rerun has been ordered, and the 3rd District where longtime Representative Walter Jones died, spurring the need for a new election.