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NC county election boards can now issue free ID cards for new voting mandate

One of the three voting systems being considered for certification by the State Board of Elections.
Rusty Jacobs

Add election offices in all 100 counties to places where North Carolina voters can obtain photo identification cards that comply with the state’s voter ID mandate taking effect with this year’s municipal elections.

The State Board of Elections announced on Wednesday that county boards of elections are now able to produce free photo ID cards. These can help registered voters who lack other acceptable forms of ID. That list includes driver’s licenses, military IDs and scores of state-approved college student and public employer ID cards.

Registered voters who come to their county election office must provide their name, date of birth, and the last four digits of their Social Security number to obtain an ID, which can be used for 10 years. Free IDs also are available at Division of Motor Vehicles offices. 

The legislature approved a photo ID law in late 2018, but implementation was blocked while it’s been challenged in courts. A state Supreme Court ruling in April opened the door for the rules to be carried out starting with this year’s local elections.

State law now directs people to show a qualifying ID while voting in person or to provide a copy of one while attempting to cast mail-in absentee ballots.

People who lack qualifying IDs can still vote. They’ll have to fill out an ID exception form. In-person voters otherwise also can cast a ballot that will count if they bring an acceptable ID to their county board office before soon after the election.

There are three local election dates beginning in September. This month blank absentee ballots will begin to be distributed to voters who requested them for the first small tranche of elections.

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