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The Daily Tar Heel

Law creates alternatives to photo ID for voting

Voters fulfilling certain requirements may cast a provisional ballot

The law, which Gov. Pat McCrory signed June 22, will allow for voters without a valid form of government photo identification to cast a provisional ballot after signing a reasonable impediment declaration as to why they do not have an acceptable photo ID. Valid reasons include lack of transportation, disability or illness, work schedule, lack of birth certificate or lost photo identification.

The voter still must present the last four digits of their social security number and their birthdate, show a voter registration card issued by their county’s board of elections or show a bank statement, current utility bill, paycheck or other government document.

“The reasonable impediment declaration is not an opportunity to evade the law,” Josh Lawson, N.C. State Board of Elections spokesman said in an email. “It’s important voters understand this exception does not swallow the rule. Photo ID is still required to vote a regular ballot in-person beginning in 2016.”

Additionally, voters may now use an expired driver’s license or state identification card, as long as the expiration date has been within the last four years.

Rep. George Robinson, R-Caldwell, one of the four sponsors of the bill, said he thinks the law will improve participation in upcoming elections.

“I think that’s been the goal all along, to make sure those voters who are legitimate voters, it gives them a way to be part of the process,” he said. “It gives legitimate voters who may not have the identification necessary to vote on Election Day ... a way to participate in the election.”

Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy N.C., said he believes the new law is still burdensome to voters without government-issued photo ID, as they will have to cast a provisional ballot, but that it provides an alternative path for honest voters.

“Anything that improves access while still protecting the integrity of the system is a positive for all of us,” Hall said. “We all benefit when more people participate in choosing our elected representatives. We’re not going to get government of the people, by the people, for the people if we don’t have a maximum number of people participating.”

The law does not include college identification cards as a valid form of ID, even when government-issued, like UNC’s One Card.

“If students push to make that change, I believe it can happen,” Hall said.

It is unclear how wide of an impact the law will have, John Dinan, Wake Forest politics and international affairs professor, said in an email.

“We aren’t in a very good position to make predictions about how many people will be affected by the recent revisions,” Dinan said. “North Carolina legislators have noted that South Carolina has a similar reasonable impediment provision in that state’s voter ID law, and no more than several hundred people have taken advantage of this provision in recent South Carolina elections.”

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