Beginning in 2016, North Carolina will require photo ID to vote at the polls. Acceptable forms of identification include: North Carolina state-issued driver’s licenses, U.S. passports or passport cards, North Carolina identification cards, military or veteran identification cards and certain tribal enrollment cards. Notably, this list does not include student IDs.
College students already have a bad turnout reputation, especially in state and local elections. With this restriction, a whole class of UNC students — out-of-state students — could be excluded from voting.
Out-of-state students without a U.S. passport or passport ID card will not be able to vote in elections starting in 2016 — with one exception. People with driver’s licenses from other states are able to vote in elections in 2016, but only if they register to vote at least 90 days ahead of the election. This means that a typical out-of-state student who voted in the Chapel Hill municipal elections this week will not be able to vote in the 2016 presidential election in North Carolina without a U.S. passport unless they obtain a North Carolina driver’s license or nonlicense ID.
This disproportionately affects out-of-state students, especially those without the ability, means or knowledge to acquire an acceptable form of ID.
Not only does this affect out-of-state students disproportionately, but it also affects black and Hispanic voters more so than the white population in North Carolina. A challenge to the constitutionality of the voter ID law is currently working its way through the courts.