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Officials: Getting voter ID easy, free

voter

Several Pitt County residents listen to a seminar on Voter ID requirements Monday in the Pitt County Ag. Center's auditorium.

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Karen Eckert

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

If you go to the polls in 2020 and you don’t have a voter photo ID, can you still vote?

This question and others were asked and answered at a Voter Information Seminar presented by Jessica Terrell from the State Board of Elections Training, Learning and Outreach Department Monday afternoon in the auditorium of the Pitt County Agricultural Center.

Members of the voting public, as well as poll workers and election board officials, attended the seminar at which questions about the new voter ID laws and topics such as voter registration and residency requirements were addressed. More than 40 people attended the afternoon event, with another to follow Monday night.

Although showing a voter photo ID is not required for any election in 2019, presenting one will be required in 2020, starting with the primary elections, Terrell said.

“Then all voters will be asked to display some form of photo ID when presenting to vote in person, and if you are choosing (to vote) absentee by mail, you will be asked to submit a copy of a photo ID.”

There are several forms of photo ID that will be accepted at the polls, and Terrell said that one she recommends is the new voter photo ID card.

The card is provided free of charge for anyone who wants one, can be used statewide and is pretty easy to obtain, Terrell said.

“To obtain a voter photo ID, you visit your county Board of Elections Office. You provide your name, your date of birth and the last four digits of your Social Security number. That’s going to be compared to your voter registration. And then they’ll take your picture and either print your card right away or they’ll mail it to you in a few days,” Terrell said.

“The voter photo ID is valid for 10 years from the day you walked in and made the request. When that card expires, it doesn’t affect your registration status, so it doesn’t mean you’re suddenly an inactive voter or you’re suddenly removed from the poll book. It means it’s time to take a new picture because you probably look different 10 years later,” Terrell said.

The card can be obtained during regular business hours at the Pitt County Board of Elections, 1717 W. Fifth St., Monday through Friday, except on Election Day and the Monday before.

“So it’s only a couple of days where you couldn’t get one made ... Lost or defaced cards will be replaced free of charge and a voter who has a name change can also get a replacement free of charge. There is no time that a voter would be charged for this card,” Terrell said.

Other types of photo ID will also be accepted at the polls, Terrell said. Some people will prefer to use a type of ID that they already have in their possession.

A N.C. driver’s license or non-operator ID from the N.C. Dept. of Motor Vehicles, a U.S. passport, a U.S. military ID, a federal or state recognized tribal card and some approved student ID cards are among the types of photo ID cards that will be accepted. A special provision has been put in place for voters 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, Terrell said.

A more detailed list of acceptable forms of photo ID is available at www.ncsbe.gove/voter-ID.

Terrell also informed the attendees what showing an ID at the polls would look like during early voting or on Election Day.

“You’ll present to the voting site and you’ll wait your turn. And as you get to the precinct official, they’ll ask you to state your current name and your current address, and while you are stating that information, you would be showing your photo ID simultaneously. After examination, when everything is lined up, you’ll get a ballot.”

A forum participant asked what would happen if the address on the ID did not match the address that showed on the polling rolls.

The addresses do not have to match, Terrell said. The photo ID is simply for the purpose of matching names with faces to make sure people are who they say they are.

Terrell said she wanted to highlight the underutilized process of “curbside voting.”

Curbside voting is for voters who can get themselves to the polling place, but maybe can’t navigate the inside of the building, Terrell said.

“During curbside voting an election official will come out to your vehicle and ask for your name. They’ll ask for your address. You also take an affirmation oath that says, ‘I am eligible to use curbside voting’ and then you’ll show your photo ID.”

Terrell also addressed “absentee by mail” voting.

When voting by absentee ballot, voters will need to attach a copy of an acceptable form of ID. If someone is not able to do that, he or she will have to sign an affidavit that says he/she has an impediment to being able to do that. Not being able to make a copy, such as not having access to a copier, would be considered an impediment, said Terrell.

For military and overseas citizens, voter ID is not going to impact the way they vote, Terrell said.

With all of this said, Terrell asked the audience, what if someone shows up at the polls without a photo ID? If someone doesn’t show an acceptable form of photo ID, they will still be allowed to vote, but they will vote provisionally, she said.

Provisional votes will count if voters come back to the county board of elections office within 10 days of the election, prior to the final canvass, and show an acceptable form of photo ID. This is a solution for someone who has an ID, but who just didn’t bring it on Election Day because of a variety of reasons, including “I brought the wrong purse.”

Some members of the public who attended the event said they did not like the idea that voters will have to show an ID, but, since that is the law now, they wanted to find out as much about the process as possible.

Pitt County resident Carol Williams said that “fear” is what brought her out to the information session.

“I fear that our federal government is being controlled by corporations so that 1 percent can get more power by taking away the rights of the 99 percent,” she said.

Obtaining the type of knowledge available at a session like the one held Monday can help combat that, Williams said.

“It’s very important that every citizen knows how to get a picture ID before 2020,” Williams said. “I came here today because I want everybody in this country to be able to vote —and I mean everybody — if they want to vote. And I want everybody to vote.”

Williams said she is willing to help anyone who needs to get an ID.

Freddie Outterbridge of Greenville also attended the meeting as a private citizen to gain information so that he could, in turn, share that information with others.

“Voting is a right, not a privilege,” Outterbridge said.

Terrell said that civic, church and other groups may contact the State Board of Elections if they are interested in having a Voter Information Session presented to their organizations.

A copy of the Monday’s Voter Information Session is available in PDF format on the State Board of Elections website, www.ncsbe.gov, Terrell said.

Karen Eckert can be reached at 252-329-9565 or at keckert@reflector.com.

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