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Elections officials hold voter ID session Monday

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Conner Patchkofsky

Sunday, July 14, 2019

A pair of presentations in Greenville on Monday will offer information on voter photo identification requirements that go into effect for the 2020 election, according to the Pitt County Board of Elections.

Photo identification is not required for any elections in 2019, officials said. However, voters will be asked to show a photo ID when they vote in 2020 primary and general elections due to a Constitutional amendment approved by voters in November 2018. The measure passed with 55.49 percent of the vote.

Civil rights groups including the NAACP have sued the General Assembly to prevent the amendment from taking effect, arguing illegally gerrymandered legislative districts gave legislative leaders votes they needed to place the amendment on the ballot.

A Wake County Superior Court Judge ruled in favor of the NAACP in February, however that decision was stayed by the state Court of Appeals, where the case is currently under review.

Proponents of the law say it will help prevent voter fraud. Opponents say that the requirements will depress turnout among low-income and minority voters.

Marques Thompson, the Eastern Regional manager for Democracy N.C., a state group working to improve access to voting, said he worries the new requirements will make it more difficult for low-income people to exercise their right to vote.

“It’s just going to add another barrier for people to vote, and any barrier prevents people from voting,” Thompson said.

Acceptable forms of identification under the new law include:

An N.C. driver’s license or non operator ID from the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (cannot be expired by more than one year)

A U.S. passport (cannot be expired by more than one year)

A U.S. military ID (no expiration limit)

A federal or state recognized tribal card (no expiration limit)

Some approved student ID cards (visit https://voterid.ncsbe.gov/voter-ID for a full list of approved colleges)

If the voter is over the age of 65, any expired form of an acceptable ID is permitted. The expired ID must have been valid on the voter’s 65th birthday.

Information about other forms of identification is available at https://www.ncsbe.gov/Voter-ID

Voters also may obtain free voter identification cards from their local board of elections office.

Pitt County Elections Director Dave Davis said any person who would like to request a free photo ID should visit www.ncsbe.gov/voter-id, fill out the Voter ID Request Form and bring it to the Elections Office, 1717 W. Fifth St.

Free photo IDs must be obtained by the Friday before an election is held.

Voters without a photo ID may vote provisionally, officials said, meaning their ballots will be held until they present an ID or sign an affidavit affirming that a “reasonable impediment” prevented them from presenting an ID. Mail-in voters must also enclose a copy of their photo ID or sign an affidavit.

When asked if offering a provisional ballot to voters without IDs provided any reassurance, Thompson said, “That’s definitely a good thing, but poll workers aren’t perfect. We’ve heard accounts of people not being offered provisional ballots before.”

He also pointed out that free photo ID’s are only offered up until the Friday before an election.

“Someone who is low-income without an ID could be required to vote provisionally and then not be able to get a photo ID in time for it to count.”

Thompson said Democracy N.C. was still working to make photo identification laws more accessible and favorable to voters.

Contact Conner Patchkofsky at cpatchkofsky@reflector.com.

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