Gov. Roy Cooper signed a bill into law that clarifies the approval requirements for student and employee identification cards being used for voting purposes on Monday, June 3.
The law intends to correct any confusion created by the language of the voter ID bill passed in December 2018. The UNC system and the North Carolina State Board of Elections identified the issues.
“The Voter ID legislation that was passed by this legislature in 2018 provided that various forms of identification could be used for the sake of voting,” N.C. Rep. David Lewis, R-53, one of the bill sponsors, said. “These included university, community college, local government, and tribal IDs. Since then, there have been some different readings of the original language, thus spurring a need to provide further clarification on the original bill.”
N.C. Rep. Zack Hawkins, D-31, a co-sponsor of the bill, said he knew that some colleges were not going to be able to meet the security criteria set by the 2018 legislation, meaning that their students would not be able to use their student IDs for voting purposes.
The 2018 voter ID law said photos used in approved student identification cards had to be taken by the university or college. The new language says the photo can be obtained by the university, as long as the university details the process used in assuring the identity of a student submitting their own photo.
“The original rules say you shouldn’t be able to submit any photo that you want,” N.C. Rep. Graig Meyer, D-50, said. “Well, honestly, you can submit your own photo for a passport photograph, so why wouldn’t you be able to submit your own photo for an ID to be eligible to vote.”
Other changes were also made to the 2018 legislation.
The State Board is now required to establish a schedule for submissions and approvals. It is also required to produce an approved list of colleges, universities, state or local government entities and charter schools every two years.
While Hawkins is disappointed to have a voter ID requirement at all, he said the clarifications made by the new legislation will help expand voting access.
“It has a clear impact,” Hawkins said. “There’s 800,000 students alone it could impact.”
Meyer praised the legislation.
“The fact that we were able to come back this year and work on a bipartisan compromise to make it possible that pretty much every student ID should be able to count, that really feels like progress in opening up the ballot box and making sure that the voter ID requirement does not stop eligible voters from being able to vote,” Meyer said.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.