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State board reopens application for institutional identification to count as voter ID

UNC One Cards have been approved as a valid form of voter ID.

The N.C. State Board of Elections plans to open a new round of applications for eligible educational institutions and government agencies to approve employee and student IDs as photo identification for voting.

The application will be open from Nov. 13 to Dec. 15 for all colleges and universities in North Carolina. Public universities will also be taking applications for their employee IDs to be considered for approval.

UNC already had its IDs approved in July for the ongoing municipal election — UNC One Cards count as a valid form of voter ID.

Karen Brinson Bell, the executive director of the NCSBE, said rolling out another application cycle is a routine procedure to ensure that as many institutions and government entities can have their ID accepted for federal ID purposes as possible.

“Those that have been approved will continue to be recognized through the end of 2024, and so we wanted to have another application period to the 2024 election cycle," she said.

Bell said the process for approval is a simple one. As long as institutions meet the requirements and submit the application along with a picture of the ID, Bell and other NCSBE members can approve them.

Bell said there has been a positive response to the previous rounds of applications and that they have had around 100 entities — including the entire UNC system — submit applications in advance of the 2023 municipal elections, with many being approved.

“I think that having access through campus, it's just one more way that campus life is elevated to the importance it has in civic life," Randee Haven-O’Donnell, a Carrboro Town Council member, said.

Haven-O'Donnell said, in terms of registering more voters and those who are already registered, it is sensible to have easily accessible photo IDs through University-issued One Cards.

"If we don't have civic engagement with students in academic environments, then we really lose the opportunity to create lifelong voters," they said.

Damon Seils, the mayor of Carrboro, said that while he is glad that the state is allowing student IDs to be used for voter photo IDs, he does not agree with the requirement of photo IDs.

Photo IDs will be required for the first time since 2016 in this year’s municipal elections, and it also applies to absentee ballots. For their mail-in-ballots to count, voters must attach a photocopy of their ID.

Seils said if the voting system requires photo identification, a wider breadth of IDs that are accepted is important. He said this is especially true for students and other groups that face barriers in getting to polling places.

Seils said he thinks having more options for students and more voter education has helped students feel more comfortable with the process and opened up more voting opportunities.

“I just hope that students will remember that they can in fact register to vote in the community where they live — if that's what they choose to do — and I hope that they will participate and get out and vote,” he said.

He said if photo IDs are necessary, having college IDs eligible to count toward that requirement is a good thing.

“Students make up a third of the population at the town of Chapel Hill," he said. "Students make up about a sixth or so of the population of the town of Carrboro. Students are an incredibly powerful voice in our communities if they choose to use it — so please use it."

@DTHCityState |

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