No voter ID needed until 2016

Published 8:50 am Thursday, October 8, 2015

WINDSOR – With municipal elections in Bertie County now less than a month away, Board of Elections chairman Carol Woodard, along with elections secretary Michael Freeman and board member J. Donnis Perry, Jr. appeared before the Bertie County Commissioners at their Monday meeting to brief them on dates and information voters need to be aware of through 2016.

The North Carolina Presidential Preference Primary Election, along with selected local seats up for election, will be held Tuesday, March 15, 2016.  Previously, this primary election was contested in May, but changed this year by the General Assembly.

The filing period for 2016 elections will begin Tuesday, Dec. 1 and run through noon on Monday, Dec. 21; it too was moved up from February under House Bill 373.

The seats of First District Democratic Congressman G.K. Butterfield and that of senior U.S. Republican Senator Richard Burr will be the two names on the federal ballot for the upcoming year.

If a second federal primary is needed, that election would be held on May 3, and a second primary for any local candidates would be May 21.

Beginning 12 days before an election, all counties in the state must open at least one location where citizens can vote early. This is called “One-Stop Absentee Voting” or “In-Person Absentee Voting” because you are voting early in person and you will be “absent” on Election Day. Absentee voting by mail begins Oct. 2 and the general municipal election will be held on Nov. 3.

Freeman told the Commissioners that One-Stop voting for the county’s municipal elections will begin Thursday, Oct. 22 and end Saturday Oct. 31.

“The hours will be 8:30 (a.m.) to 5:00 (p.m.) and 8:30 to 1:00 on Saturday, the 31st,” Freeman said. “This will also be the only Saturday that you can vote early.”

Freeman said the One-Stop polling locations in Bertie County would be Powellsville Town Hall, Aulander Community Building, and Windsor at the Board of Elections office on Watson Street.

Commissioners inquired about Voter ID, where the state requires voters to show an acceptable form of photo identification when presenting to vote in person at the polls. Woodard made clear this will not apply until 2016.

“In the November (municipal) election no Voter ID is required,” she said.

The exception may be for first-time voters. If it is your first time voting in the county you may need to show identification. In this case, you will need to show either a current photo ID (with or without an address) OR another one of the following documents with your name and current address: utility bill (electric, gas, phone, water, cable bill), pay-stub or W-2, bank or bank card statement, or any document from any government agency (for example, a letter, license, or bill).

“Every voter will be asked to have ID,” said Freeman. “If not, you will be told how you can obtain one.  2016 is when Voter ID kicks in.”

Woodard and Freeman also said it’s unclear at this time if the county will share the cost of the election.  Commission chair Ronald “Ron” Wesson said funds have been set aside until some determination is made; but they could easily go back into the county’s general fund.

“As soon as you know, we need to know,” the chairman said.