Beginning in March, North Carolina voters will be required to provide photo identification before they can vote either in person or by mail-in absentee voting.
Several forms of photo IDs are acceptable, including free photo IDs now available at the Wayne County Board of Elections office, 309 E. Chestnut St., during office hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The office will hold educational seminars about voter photo identification requirements at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. June 12 in Moffatt Auditorium at Wayne Community College, 3000 Wayne Memorial Drive.
Each session takes two hours, and the State Board of Elections voter outreach team facilitates the seminars.
In November, North Carolina voters approved an amendment to the N.C. Constitution to require voters to present photo IDs at the polls.
State law requires each county board of elections to hold at least two voter ID seminars before Sept. 1. Attendees also will receive information about voting options, including absentee-by-mail, one-stop early voting and Election Day voting.
Information about provisional voting, the availability of free N.C. voter ID cards and residency requirements for voting also will be provided.
“It will be educational and instructional and is geared toward the public,” said Anne Risku, Wayne County Board of Elections deputy director. “I am sure that at the end there will be a questions-and-answers session, maybe some handouts and things like that.
“It is legislated that we hold two informational sessions before it is implemented, which won’t be until March.”
The first attempt at voter ID occurred in March 2016, and it went well locally, Risku said.
“This time with it being implemented, there is the option of voters getting a free ID here at the board of elections,” she said. “In ‘16 they didn’t have that option. They had some option where they could go to the DMV and apply for one.
“But now we are making them in the office for people who do not have a valid photo ID or for anyone who requests one.”
No identification is required to get one of the photo IDs.
Applicants fill out a brief form with their name, date of birth and the last four numbers of their Social Security number.
The card includes the person’s photo, name and statewide voter identification number.
Getting a free ID takes about 10 minutes, she said.
It is a statewide ID and can be used in any county once the person is registered to vote in that county, Risku said.
“So it is not really going to be useful for anything else, except for showing at the polls,” she said. “If you already have a driver’s license, military ID, passport, tribal ID, student ID, county ID or local government ID, then you really don’t need our ID.”
The office has not had many requests for the cards so far and has only made seven since starting May 1.
Elections Director Dane Beavers expects that will pick up closer to upcoming elections.
The form used to apply for the card is similar to a voter registration form, and a person must be a registered voter to get an ID. However, a person can register to vote and get an ID at the same time.
The ID does not replace the voter mail verification process, Risku said.
After a person registers for the first time, the board of elections mails a voter registration card to the person. If the mailing is returned twice as undeliverable, the board denies the registration.
If it comes back twice as undeliverable for a registered voter — for example, if it was an update to an existing registration — then that registration becomes inactive, she said.
“And you are required to verify your address when you show up to vote,” Risku said. “But one does not replace the other. It is the same process we have always had. You just now have that photo ID you use when you go to vote.”
Mail-in absentee ballots require that the voter include a copy of a photo ID or an affidavit of reasonable impediment as to why the voter was unable to get a photo ID, Risku said.
The board of elections will make the cards right up to the Friday before Election Day, Beavers said.
“We will make them during one-stop early voting period,” he said. “People will be able to do same-day registration at polling places (during one stop), but the photo ID will only be done at the board of elections office.”
Also, people can register and vote during one stop if they have one of the other qualifying photo IDs, Beavers said.