Exceptions added to common sense law
Published 9:48 am Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Despite being labeled as restrictive and suppressive by some, North Carolinians voting in the March 2016 Primary will be asked to present identification prior to casting a ballot.
That new law is just fine by me.
I’m not going to rant like some and shout to the top of my lungs that this new law was developed only to deter voter fraud. To me, this new legislation, which has been discussed on multiple occasions by members of our state’s General Assembly, is welcomed on one basic principle….if your name is on the list as a registered voter, then you should have no issue with proving that fact by way of showing an acceptable form of identification.
Some believe this new requirement discriminates against minority voters. However, when asked for identification to purchase medication, apply for government aid, visit a doctor’s office, etc. no one seems to have an issue with being asked to prove they are who they say they are.
Last week, a Federal Judge upheld North Carolina’s new Voter ID law, which was challenged in court by the NAACP. There are, however, some exceptions worth noting in this new legislation.
Voters who are 70 years of age or older may use any acceptable photo ID that has been expired for any length of time, provided the photo ID expired after their 70th birthday.
Voters who have access to an acceptable form of photo ID but do not present it at the polling site may vote a provisional ballot and later present an acceptable form of photo ID to an election official at the county board of elections office. The deadline for presenting the photo ID will be provided to the voter when he or she casts the provisional ballot. The provisional ballot will be counted if the voter presents acceptable photo ID by the deadline and all other eligibility requirements are met.
Alternatively, a voter may leave the voting site to retrieve his or her photo ID and return to the polls before closing time to cast a regular ballot.
Voters who are unable to obtain an acceptable photo ID due to a reasonable impediment may still vote a provisional ballot at the polls. Examples of a reasonable impediment include, but are not limited to, the lack of proper documents, family obligations, transportation problems, work schedule, illness or disability, etc.
The “reasonable impediment” requires the voter to sign a declaration describing their impediment; and provide their date of birth and last four digits of their Social Security number, or present their current voter registration card or a copy of an acceptable document bearing their name and address. Acceptable documents include a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government-issued document.
The provisional ballot will be counted when the information on the declaration is verified and all other eligibility requirements are met.
Persons who travel to a voting place on Election Day or during Early Voting, but who, due to age or physical disability, are unable to enter the voting enclosure without physical assistance, will be permitted to vote from a vehicle. Such persons must present either and acceptable photo ID or an acceptable document showing his or her name and address. Acceptable documents include a current utility bill, banks statement, government check, paycheck or other government-issued document.
A voter will not be required to show photo ID if the voter declares that he or she is a victim of a natural disaster that occurred within 60 days of the election date. The voter must reside in a county that has officially been declared a natural disaster area by either the Governor of North Carolina or the President of the United States.
Voters who have a religious objection to being photographed may file a declaration with their county board of elections and will not be required to present photo ID. If a voter does not file a declaration at least 25 days before the elections he or she may cast a provisional ballot. The ballot will be counted if the voter later appears in person at the county board of elections to execute the declaration and provides an acceptable document show the voter’s name and address. Acceptable documents include a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government-issued document. The deadline for signing the declaration will be provided to the voter when he or she casts a provisional ballot.
Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-332-7207.