When it comes to politics, North Carolina has a colorful history: stories of graft, corruption and vote buying are legendary here in the Tarheel State. Over the years, crooked party bosses have managed to resurrect dead voters, over-zealous community organizers have padded the rolls with the mentally handicapped and the criminally insane, and lucky prison inmates have had their time magically reduced after agreeing to vote the right way. Remarkably, even some non-citizens are registered to vote in our state.
Perhaps not coincidentally, North Carolina also has some of the loosest election laws in the nation: all it took to vote here was showing up and giving a trusting poll worker a name and address.
And not necessarily the correct one. Last year, in an investigative story on voter fraud by WLOS-TV, a news reporter went undercover and was happily given a ballot after checking in at the polls using the name of an elderly African-American lady who happened to be deceased. The reporter was a white guy — and, it turns out, very much alive. The State Bureau of Investigation nabbed a city councilwoman who was forging signatures on absentee ballots, and some enterprising young folks have even managed to cast votes in two different states at the same time. A watchdog group presented the state Board of Elections with a list of nearly 30,000 names of dead people who are still registered to vote in the state. The list goes on: between 2008 and 2012, nearly 500 cases of voter fraud were referred for criminal prosecution in North Carolina.
For as long as anyone can remember, election officials here haven’t bothered to ask for identification at the polls. That’s because checking someone’s ID — even one that’s offered voluntarily — hasn’t been allowed by Board of Elections officials. Many new voters say they find this strange, and many long-time voters find it an affront to the integrity of their most basic civil right. Sneaky political operatives might tell you (with a wink and a nod) that’s just the way it’s always been done here in North Carolina.
Same-day registration — the process of both registering to vote and casting a vote at the very same time — further compounds these problems by preventing election officials from being able to properly document and verify a voter’s eligibility. Only ten states offer same-day registration, and Montana voters will likely repeal its same-day registration next year due to concerns about rampant election fraud. In most other states, voters must register by a deadline, usually between 10 and 30 days before an election.
In a typical election, roughly half of all provisional ballots are invalidated because local election boards can’t verify that the voter even exists. In last year’s race for Lieutenant Governor, more than 28,000 ballots were invalidated — meaning that 28,000 people whom nobody could prove actually even existed attempted to cast a vote (Dan Forest eventually won the race by a mere 6,858 votes). This problem is further complicated by the fact that the counting of provisional ballots can be a highly partisan affair; the election canvass is conducted at the county level and is overseen by a 2-to-1 majority of the ruling party. What could possibly go wrong?
One thing is clear, however: most people now strongly believe that presenting an ID to vote is a good idea whose time has come. Three separate surveys in North Carolina this year showed overwhelming support for Voter ID: an Elon University poll showed 72% support, a Civitas Institute poll showed 67% support, and a SurveyUSA poll showed 75% support. Several national polls conducted before the 2012 elections found support for photo ID consistently high: The Washington Post gauged it at 74%, a CBS News/New York Times poll had it at 70%, the Pew Research Center at 77%, and Rasmussen put it at 71%.
This overwhelming support for Voter ID breaks across all political, regional, income, racial, age and gender lines as well: A July 2013 McClatchy-Marist poll (parent company of the Raleigh News & Observer) found that 72% of registered Democrats, 99% of registered Republicans, and 87% of Independents support Voter ID; 82% of whites support Voter ID and 83% of non-whites support it; 81% of college graduates support Voter ID and 85% of folks without college degrees support it. Even most folks who identify politically as “liberal or very liberal” support changing the law to require voters to show ID — 65% of them said so.
Some apologists will tell you that since instances of fraud are relatively scarce (500 cases out of more than 6 million registered voters in North Carolina) — the need for Voter ID is nothing more than “a solution looking for a problem.” On the contrary, it’s the lack of evidence that highlights yet another fraud-related problem: the shortage of tools for detecting fraud. Without Voter ID laws, we can’t even detect — let alone deter — voter fraud. And believe it or not, county election boards aren’t even required to report suspected fraud.
With passage of the Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA) into law this summer, North Carolina will eventually be brought back into line with the rest of the country (the free Voter ID requirement goes into effect in 2016). Thirty-three other states have passed laws that require identification to vote, and legislation is pending in a total of 30 other states, including new voter ID proposals in twelve. Representative Moffitt was a co-sponsor of the new law.
Getting a free valid ID also offers a great number of benefits beyond just voting. Because having identification is one of the most basic requirements of modern life, those without it are often forced to rely on others for the most basic things. “People who currently lack a photo ID will be brought more fully into daily life,” said one observer during the lengthy hearing on the voter ID bill. “We require an ID for many activities, be it buying cold medicine or cashing a check. Those opposed to requiring the commonsense requirement for a government-issued photo ID to vote like to talk about voter disenfranchisement. What they never mention is by helping these folks get a free valid government photo ID, they will be helping them get more fully integrated into society.”
“While some will try to make this seem to be controversial, the simple reality is that requiring voters to provide a photo ID when they vote is a common sense idea,” said Governor Pat McCrory. “This new law brings our state in line with a healthy majority of other states throughout the country. This common sense safeguard is common-place.”
In addition to requiring a free Voter ID by 2016, the new law makes a host of other reforms which will modernize our system of elections to bring them more in line with the mainstream. We look at them below by order of effective date and then answer some questions regarding obtaining a free ID, pending court challenges to the legislation, and a special section for students.
Taxpayer Funding of Political Parties and Political Candidates. The new law has ended taxpayer-funding of political campaigns. North Carolina now joins the 37 other states that do not use taxpayer money to fund political candidates. Specifically, the reforms repeal: 1) the Political Party Financing (check-off) Fund. Political parties will no longer be automatically subsidized by taxpayers and must rely on individual contributions; 2) taxpayer financing of judicial races. Judicial elections for state Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals are no longer paid for with taxpayer dollars; and c) Taxpayer financing for three Council of State races (Auditor, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Commissioner of Insurance) was ended as of July.
Voter List Maintenance. In order to improve the integrity of voter rolls, the State Board of Elections is now authorized to exchange data with other states in order to weed out those individuals who are registered to vote here and in another state.
Pre-Registration. The new law ends the unnecessary program of pre-registering 16 and 17 year-old children in high school. Pre-registration of children who cannot vote gives state employees the opportunity to exert a biased political influence on a captive audience outside the presence of their parents. Teachers should focus on educating kids, not indoctrinating them. Students can always register to vote if they meet all qualifications; for example, if they will be 18 by Election Day, they can register at 17. Only five states allow minor children to register before they turn 18, and with the new law, North Carolina joins the 45 other states that do not offer “pre-registration” for children not eligible to actually vote in the next election.
Purging the Voter Rolls. The State Board of Elections is now authorized to accept notices from more sources to remove ineligible voters, including those who are deceased, based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services and funeral operators.
“Bundling” by Lobbyists. Under the new law, lobbyists are prohibited from delivering even a single campaign contribution to a candidate. Registered lobbyists may not collect or pass along any campaign donation to a legislative or executive branch candidate, including donations from their client’s PAC (Political Action Committee).
Voter Education. Over the next few years, state and county election boards are ordered to educate the public on key provisions of the law by using registration cards, websites, printed voter guides, at individual voting sites, and through public service announcements in print, radio, television, and social media. For example, notices of elections published by county boards of elections for the 2014 primary and general elections are to include a brief statement that photo identification will be required to vote in person beginning in 2016. And as a deterrent, the state board is also required to include a prominent statement on all election forms that submitting fraudulent or false declarations is a Class I felony.
Free ID and other Vital Documents. Registered voters who attest to the fact that they don’t have acceptable ID may apply for a free non-driver’s “Special ID Card” from the Division of Motor Vehicles. To apply for a DMV-issued ID, voters must provide proof of age and identity, Social Security number, and residence. County Register of Deeds offices will waive all fees for someone to obtain a copy of their birth certificate and marriage license for the purpose of obtaining voting ID.
Same Day Registration. Voters can no longer register to vote on the same day as when the election occurs, but will have to register at least 25 days before election day. Only ten states allow voters to register and then immediately cast a ballot during early voting.
“Wet Ink.” Voter registration forms must be physically signed by the person. Electronic signatures or those generated by computer software, will not be valid. Until now, party operatives skirted the law by using systems that allowed voters to sign ballots remotely through portable electronic devices like smartphones.
Special Elections. Special elections, such as those for local referendums, can no longer be held at odd times of year. They must now be held on the same day as another state, county or municipal general election.
Candidate Petitions. The number of statewide petition signatures a candidate needs in order to be placed on the ballot is lowered. The intra-party registered voters threshold is lowered from 10% to 5%, and the outside-party petition signers threshold is lowered from 10,000 to 8,000. A candidate can qualify by satisfying whichever requirement is greater.
Registration Drives. Taxpayer-funded statewide voter registration drives in high schools will be ended, and groups conducting voter registration drives will no longer be allowed to pay employees based on commission — that is, by the number of completed forms registration forms they submit. Paying employees by completed registration forms is a proven incentive for fraud, and anyone paid based on the number of forms submitted will be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Poll Watchers. Parties will be able to appoint ten additional unpaid poll watchers from any precinct in the county and assign up to three in any individual precinct. These poll watchers no longer have to be residents of the precincts where they are assigned.
Contribution Limits. Limits on financial contributions will be raised from $4,000 per election to $5,000 for state and local candidates (and PACs) and from $1,000 per election to $5,000 for judicial races (these amounts could increase in later years with inflation). Previously, a candidate’s immediate family members were exempted from this limit and now only a candidate’s spouse will be exempted.
Disclosure for Media Ads. Reporting requirements for outside groups spending money on print, radio or television ads are changed from the May primary to September 7th of the election year. Sponsors will no longer have to explicitly state a pro or con position on a ballot issue, for example. And it will no longer be required that mailers and print ads by outside groups include a list of its top five donors.
HQ Building Funds. The new law mandates that money donated to a political party or campaign be used only for that purpose, and prohibits the use of these funds for anything other than fixtures, personnel compensation, travel, or fundraising expenses. Money raised to buy a building will not be allowed to be diverted to a candidate.
Fundraiser Raffles and Bake Sales. Candidates and PACs will be able to hold raffles and bake sales to raise money. Receipts and expenditures on raffles or bake sales by candidates and PACs will be accounted for on campaign finance reports, and ticket purchases will be considered contributions.
Stand By Your Ad. The requirement that candidates add the identifying tagline at the end of a TV or radio ads (“I’m John Doe and I approve this message.”) will be removed. Candidates will have to include a small photo for at least two seconds in television ads, but no similar acknowledgment was required in radio ads or those produced by parties or independent groups. This makes disclosures more uniform.
Judicial Instant Runoffs. Filling certain judicial vacancies by the instant runoff method of voting is eliminated. If a vacancy occurs on the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, or Superior Court more than 60 days before the general election (and after the opening of the filing period for the primary) the seat will be filled through plurality voting.
Satellite Polling Places. County election boards must now designate special polling places (for the elderly or disabled) by a unanimous vote instead of by special request.
Senate Vacancies. If a U.S. Senator leaves office before the end of the term, the governor will have to fill the seat with a person of the same party as the outgoing senator (as opposed to anyone of his or her choosing).
Candidate Withdrawal. The new law will prevent “last-minute” candidate dropouts — a nifty trick that’s been used over the years which allows establishment candidates to run unopposed and longtime incumbents to pick their successors. In 2008, for example, Insurance Commissioner Jim Long (who had served for over twenty years) didn’t announce his retirement until filing week. Wayne Goodwin, his assistant, filed papers to run, and he narrowly beat another Democrat who filed at the last minute. Goodwin won the general election too, but the new law won’t let any other candidates pull the same stunt. The new law requires candidates to drop out of a race at least three days before the end of filing.
Board of Elections Term-Limits. Members of the State Board of Elections will be limited to serving no more than two consecutive four-year terms, as is the case for the office of Governor.
Photo ID Phase-In. Starting in May of 2014, a registered voter will be allowed to present a photo ID at a polling place, although at that point they won’t be required to do so. Election officials will inform voters that starting in 2016, a photo ID will be required at the polls to vote. Voters who don’t have proper identification at that time will be asked to sign an acknowledgement and given a list of acceptable forms of identification and instructions on how to obtain it. Voters may also complete an online survey to inform the State Board of Elections that they do not have acceptable photo ID. County boards of elections will contact these voters to ensure they can obtain proper photo ID before 2016.
Improved Early Voting. To better accommodate the schedules of working people, Early Voting locations will open earlier in the morning and close later in the evening — and there will be more of them. The new law keeps the same total number of early voting hours we have now, but they aren’t spread as thin (from 17 days to 10), so the hours of operation will be extended at each location.
Starting in May of 2014, every early voting location will be required to operate a uniform number of days and hours — meaning that if one site is open, they must all be open. This prevents sneaky politicians from influencing the outcome of a county-wide election by only opening a few strategic polling locations in a city.
County boards will also no longer be able to pull a fast one by arbitrarily keeping certain polling locations open an extra hour — only the State Board of Elections may extend the closing time for polls. However, anyone already in line at closing time will be allowed to vote, as is the case now.
“I start work every day at 9am and I don’t get home until 6 at night. Early Voting was never convenient for working people like me. Now it will be.”
No More Straight-Ticket Voting. Straight-ticket party-line voting is eliminated, shifting the emphasis of elections away from purely partisan politics and providing greater opportunity to vote for individual candidates (“Vote the person, not the party”). Straight ticket voting tends to discourage engagement in the political process, and getting rid of it will better ensure that voters are casting a knowledgeable and well-considered vote. With the new law, North Carolina will join the 36 other states that ask voters to cast a ballot for a candidate — rather than a political party.
(Ironically, the elimination of straight-ticket party-line voting might actually make it simpler to vote for President, Vice President and the various judicial races. North Carolina was the only straight-ticket state that did not include those offices — meaning that some voters who “pulled straight ticket” may have inadvertently failed to vote for anyone for President, Vice President, or judges.)
Ballot Order. The new law helps address the bias inherent in always putting the candidates of the majority party first on the ballot — a phenomenon known as the “Ballot Order Effect.” Candidates who appear on the ballot first enjoy a certain advantage in elections. With the new law, the ballot order will be occasionally rotated to reflect changes in state leadership.
Wrong Precinct Voting. Voters must cast their ballots in the precincts where they live to be counted. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia prohibit voters from casting provisional ballots outside the precinct where they reside.
Mail-in Absentee Voting. Requests for absentee ballots must be made on an official State Absentee Ballot Request Form. The county board of elections will mail a ballot back to the voter’s residence. The voter must return the completed ballot in the envelope provided or hand-deliver it to the board of elections office or an early voting site. The absentee ballot must have the signature of the voter (or a near relative or legal guardian), and the signatures and addresses of two witnesses or a Notary Public, or the name, address and signature of anyone assisting a voter unable to sign for themselves. The request form will require voters to provide one of the following: (1) their drivers license number, 2) the last four digits of their Social Security number; or c) a copy of a HAVA ID. The State Absentee Ballot Request Form will be available online and at county board of elections’ offices on January 1, 2014. (Acceptable HAVA IDs: a current and valid photo identification; or a copy of one of the following documents that show the name and address of the voter: a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document.)
Voting Challenges. To help keep elections honest and prevent fraud, a voter’s eligibility can be challenged by anyone in the entire state — as opposed to just someone from his or her own precinct. (On Primary Day or Election Day, however, both the voter and the challenger must reside in the same county.)
2016 Election Cycle
Photo ID. Presenting an acceptable government-issued photo ID will be required to vote starting in 2016. Acceptable forms of ID will include:
- a North Carolina driver’s license, learner’s permit or provisional license;
- a special identification card issued by the DMV for non-drivers;
- a United States passport;
- a military ID or veterans ID card;
- an out-of-state driver’s license (only valid for 90 days after registering to vote in North Carolina; or
- a tribal enrollment card issued by a North Carolina or federally-recognized Indian tribe.
Certain types of ID cards won’t be acceptable for voting. They include:
- student IDs (from either public or private universities);
- government employee IDs;
- membership cards,
- grocery store discount cards, or
- expired IDs (not including expired military or veterans IDs, or any otherwise acceptable ID of senior voters over the age of 70, provided the ID was not expired as of their 70th birthday.)
Certain voters will be exempt from these photo ID requirements, specifically those 1) swearing a religious objection to being photographed (the voter must then execute a declaration of that objection before an election official more than 25 days before the election, and the declaration would be incorporated into the voter’s official voter registration record); 2) those using curbside voting because of age or physical disability (although the voter must present a copy of certain acceptable kinds of documents, such as a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter); and c) those who are victims of a natural disaster that’s been declared within 60 days of an election.
Voters without proper photo ID on Election Day in 2016 will still be able to cast a provisional ballot, but the voter must present acceptable photo ID to the county board of elections by noon of the day before the election canvass.
Presidential Primary. If the state of South Carolina holds its presidential primary before March 15, then North Carolina will hold its primary the following Tuesday. A May primary would still be held for other candidates.
2018 Election Season
Paper Ballot Backups. Voting machines in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties will be required to generate individual paper ballots that reflect votes cast either by hand or through electronic means, and touch-screen voting machines will be prohibited unless they can also generate a paper ballot. Sixty-seven North Carolina counties used paper ballots in 2012, and with the new law, North Carolina will join 17 other states that require only paper ballots statewide.
Obtaining a Free ID
Under the new law, every voter will be able to get a free ID. No voter is required to spend any money in order to vote. If someone doesn’t already have an approved form of ID, here are some ways the law can help:
- Registered voters who don’t have one of the approved forms of ID can obtain a non-operator special identification card from the DMV at no charge.
- An expired ID is accepted for anyone over the age of 70. People who are blind, homeless or elderly can already obtain ID at no cost. Now, those who can show financial hardship can also get free ID.
- Still others can meet the ID requirement by sitting for a photo, at no cost, that will go into a state ID database that any poll worker can access on election day when the voter arrives to cast a ballot. The new law authorizes the State Board of Elections to study the implementation of a photo database to be made available to poll workers, called “electronic pollbooks.” Registered voters would have the option of getting a picture taken which would later serve as acceptable photo ID for the purpose of voting during an election.
Has Voter ID ever been struck down by the courts?
The courts have reviewed laws in other states that are similar to ours and have found them to be legal. In 2008, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Indiana’s voter ID law, in a 6-3 decision written by Justice John Paul Stevens, finding that it was consistent with a legitimate state interest in safeguarding voter confidence, modernizing elections, and preventing voter fraud. Indiana’s strict photo ID law, enacted in 2005, was challenged in District Court and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and was upheld by both. During the trial, the plaintiffs could not produce a single witness who could claim that they were not able to comply with the law. You can learn more about the court’s reasoning in the article “How the U.S. Supreme Court analyzed and upheld Indiana’s Voter ID law in Crawford v. Marion,” by Jeanette Doran of the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law, dated April 8, 2013.
In 2011, the Georgia Supreme Court found the state’s Voter ID law to be constitutional, saying that its photo ID requirement is a “minimal, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory restriction.”
On January 24, 2012, the Department of Justice, Texas State Conference of the NAACP and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives filed a lawsuit against the State of Texas over their voter ID requirements. The federal court agreed, finding that Texas’s law violated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. This meant that Texas could not enforce its photo ID law for the 2012 election in November. On June 17, 2013, the Supreme Court struck down an Arizona law, ruling that states may not require new applicants to show proof of citizenship. The justices ruled that the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (“Motor Voter”), which requires states to accept and use the simple federal form, sets the national standard for signing up new voters, and that states are not free to add qualifications. Arizona voters adopted the provision to “combat voter fraud.”
On October 17, 2013, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled unanimously to uphold the state’s Voter Identification Act, a photo ID law enacted in 2011 that requires voters to present government-issued photographic identification in order to cast a ballot in state or federal elections. In the case City of Memphis v. Hargett, the court concluded that the photo ID law was not an undue burden. Chief Justice Gary R. Wade said, “Protection of the integrity of the election process empowers the state to enact laws to prevent voter fraud before it occurs.” The court argued that voters who don’t have a proper ID card can get one for free.
On June 25, 2013, the United States Supreme Court struck down an outdated section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, in Texas v. Holder, ruling that its formula can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to preclearance before enacting changes to voting laws. Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, certain jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory voting practices are required to obtain “preclearance” from either the Department of Justice or a federal district court in Washington, DC, for any changes to their voting laws. To obtain preclearance, the jurisdiction must demonstrate that its new voting provisions neither have the purpose nor will have the effect of discriminating on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. In Texas v. Holder, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the current coverage system is “based on 40-year-old facts having no logical relationship to the present day.”
In light of the court’s ruling, North Carolina joined Texas, Mississippi and Alabama in announcing that they would move ahead with strict voter identification card requirements. “Senate Bill 14 (the photo ID law) is now in full effect and being implemented in Texas,” according to Texas’s motion, filed in U.S. District Court in the case of Texas v. Holder.
North Carolina’s election reforms have been challenged in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. The suit, filed August 12, 2013, targets the provisions that reduce the early voting period, eliminate same-day registration, and prohibit out-of-precinct voting.
The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and the Advancement Project filed a lawsuit on August 12, 2013, alleging that Rosanell Eaton’s constitutional right to vote is threatened by the new law, which, starting in 2016, would require voters to show photo identification when they go to the polls. But there isn’t a single thing in the new law that will prevent Mrs. Eaton from voting. Her claim rests on the allegation that it would be less costly and time-consuming to sue the state of North Carolina than to run an errand or send a few pieces of mail.
And on September 30, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit claiming that the state’s new voter identification requirements and election law changes discriminate against blacks: “The clear and intended effects of these changes would detract the electorate and result in unequal access to participation in the political process on account of race,” and would “disproportionately exclude minority voters,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a news conference.
The specific provisions being challenged in the federal suit are:
- Early Voting days being shortened by seven days.
- Same-Day Registration being eliminated.
- Wrong Precinct Voting being disallowed.
- Photo ID being required in 2016.
The lawsuit seeks to accomplish three things:
- Have parts of the new voting law declared in violation of the Voting Rights Act and the 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
- Prevent state officials from enforcing the new laws, while authorizing federal observers to monitor elections in North Carolina.
- Requests federal courts to require preclearance from the Justice Department before any changes to election law can take place anywhere in North Carolina. (Previously, only 40 North Carolina counties fell under preclearance requirements.)
Speaker of the House Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger issued a joint statement addressing the lawsuit: “The Obama Justice Department’s baseless claims about North Carolina’s election reform law are nothing more than an obvious attempt to quash the will of the voters and hinder a hugely popular voter ID requirement. The law was designed to improve consistency, clarity, and uniformity at the polls, and it brings North Carolina’s election system in line with a majority of other states. We are confident it protects the right of all voters, as required by the U.S. and North Carolina Constitutions.”
Governor Pat McCrory called the Justice Department’s Voter ID challenge “an overreach” in this video statement of September 30, 2013.
And John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation, had this to say in his piece entitled Justice Filed Political Lawsuit: ”By challenging North Carolina’s new election law, the Obama administration is trying to bestow two political gifts. First, the lawsuit furthers the party’s immediate narrative that Republicans are trying to turn the clock back on civil rights, a narrative designed to boost turnout among the Democratic base in 2014. Second, if that gambit fails and the GOP does well in 2014, Democrats will campaign in 2016 on the claim that Republicans actually succeeded in suppressing the vote! Either way, Holder’s actions are best interpreted as political theater, not as a serious attempt to protect voting rights that were never imperiled in the first place.”
Won’t the new election laws cost more money?
The costs of administering the free ID program are offset by provisions that will save the taxpayers money. Every day of early voting costs counties across the state $98,000 every day. The new law cuts the number of early voting days from 17 days to 10 days while offering extended hours during those days. Sunday voting has not been eliminated, as was once proposed. And registered voters can still cast a vote by turning in an absentee ballot by mail.
Another plus is that reducing the early voting period gives candidates some relief when campaigning. Candidates usually target a premium voting period for ad buys, fundraisers and publicity events and the fewer days of early voting there are, the less the financial burden for citizens running for office.
A note to students
Our system of voting is based on residency, and under the new law students won’t be able to use college IDs, which are easily faked. College students can certainly use any of the other approved forms of identification when voting in their hometowns in North Carolina.
Acceptable documents to prove age and identity can include the student’s out-of-state driver’s license or ID card, a birth certificate, original Social Security card, tax forms, motor vehicle record, school documents, passport, certified marriage certificate, and court or other government documents. A person seeking a North Carolina DMV ID card will need two of the proof-of-age and identity documents.
An array of documents can be used for proof of Social Security. They include a Social Security card, tax forms, payroll records, or any Social Security, military, or Medicare/Medicaid documents reflecting the Social Security number.
Acceptable proof-of-residency documents include government-issued documents, a North Carolina vehicle registration card or title, a voter precinct card, military documents, utility bills, housing documents (including housing leases, contracts, mortgage statements, property or income tax statements), financial statements, school records, N.C. vehicle insurance policies, or even a letter from a homeless shelter).
Joni Worthington, vice president for communications for the UNC system, said the requirements to establish residency for in-state tuition are more demanding than those for acquiring a driver’s license, state ID card, or voter registration. For one thing, Worthington noted that out-of-state students seeking to obtain in-state status have to prove continuous residency for at least one year. They cannot live in North Carolina during the academic year and then return home in the summer.
Students with out-of-state residency (or who have not yet established residency in a North Carolina precinct for 30 or more days before an election) should only vote in their home state (either in person or by absentee ballot).