Free ID card made available for voters
Out-of-state students who want to cast their ballot in North Carolina can now get free identification that will allow them to do so.
A portion of the state’s voter ID law went into effect at the beginning of the year and allows voters in North Carolina to apply for free photo identification at Department of Motor Vehicle offices.
The bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory in August, has been criticized for discriminating against minority voters.
According to the law, voters must present photo identification at the polls, beginning with the presidential elections in 2016.
Acceptable forms of IDs include a valid N.C. driver’s license, a U.S. passport or a veteran’s ID card. A driver’s license issued by another state would be accepted if the voter registered within 90 days of the election.
Student IDs do not qualify as valid IDs. An early version of the law allowed students to use ID cards issued by the university system. The change had sparked some criticism.
“They don’t respect a photo ID from the university,” said Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy N.C., a left-leaning advocacy organization. “It makes people feel like they are second class voters.”
But people can apply for a free ID for the purpose of voting from the DMV if they have no other acceptable form of state ID.
To obtain a no-fee voter ID card, the voter must already be registered to vote, according to the DMV website.
The voter must also provide proof of age and identity, a valid social security number and proof of citizenship and residency. The ID card can take up to 10 days to reach the voter.
“It requires people’s effort and time,” Hall said.
The law also reduces the number of early voting days and eliminates same-day voter registration.
In September, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against North Carolina regarding the changes to the state’s voting laws.
The department wanted the trial to occur before the midterm elections in 2014, Hall said. But last month, a federal district court judge set the trial for 2015.
“It is ironic that a photo ID was required to gain entry for today’s hearing in a Federal Court Building,” McCrory said in a statement at the time. “This presents the strongest case yet that requiring a photo ID to vote is common sense, even for Washington lawyers and activists — and this argument will be upheld regardless of the trial date.”
Shelby Hudspeth, director of state and external affairs for UNC-CH student government, has been working to minimize the effect of the voter ID law on campus.
She said the Rams Head voting area will not be available in the next election, and she is working with the administration to ensure there is a site on campus for students to vote.
“Society has historically tried to get youth involved with politics and voting, and this law is trying to take that away.”
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