Raleigh, N.C. – Bipartisan legislation amending the deadline and criteria for the State Board of Elections to approve voter identification cards received final approval by a 109-6 vote of the North Carolina House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The legislation is anticipated to facilitate increased voting access for students using college-issued identifications across the state.
In 2018 North Carolinians approved a constitutional amendment establishing voter ID. in the state’s elections.
Enabling legislation subsequently passed by the state General Assembly allowed a range of qualifying cards – as well as signed affidavits asserting a reasonable impediment to obtaining an identification – for voters to cast their ballots.
North Carolina’s voter ID law accommodates religious objectors, provides for free government-issued IDs and accepts drivers’ licenses, passports, military and veteran IDs, student IDs, voter ID cards, as well as state and local government IDs. Drivers’ licenses from other states would even qualify in some circumstances.
House Bill 646 ID Approval/Flex Muni One-Stop extends the date for universities, private and community colleges, charter schools, and state and local government entities to have their identification cards approved for voting from March 15 to November 15, 2019.
The bill also clarifies that for the 2020 elections, identification cards for those entities may not be denied approval by the State Board due solely to a lack of a printed expiration date on the card.
North Carolina’s voter ID rules will apply to both in-person and absentee ballots beginning in 2020.
“We worked together with our colleagues across the aisle and across the building to accomplish a common-sense solution to voter ID implementation,” said Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) during debate on the bill.
“This update to the original bill conclusively resolves all known issues identified by the university system and Board of Elections. We worked with both of those entities to identify and address barriers to IDs being approved.”
A qualifying voter ID approved by the State Board before March 15, 2019, would continue to be eligible for use in any election prior to December 31, 2022, without any further submission or approval under H.B. 646.
Any identification card denied approval by the State Board by March 15, 2019, could submit a revised application by November 15, 2019 for use in the 2020 elections.
H.B. 646 also allows voter ID cards to contain photos not taken directly but obtained by qualifying institutions, provided there is a frontal image that includes the individual’s face and represents a clear, accurate likeness of the individual.
State House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) sponsored the voter ID constitutional amendment approved by North Carolinians in 2018.
“We remain committed to ensuring the integrity of our elections systems with commonsense voter ID laws and working with local institutions to help every eligible North Carolinian cast a ballot,” Speaker Moore said.
The legislation also allows tribal enrollment cards issued by a state or federal recognized tribe to be used as voter ID, regardless of expiration date, and makes changes to rules regarding early one-stop voting locations and hours in odd-numbered years only.
Thirty-four other states have some form of voter ID law. North Carolina is the last state in the Southeast to require some form of voter ID.