RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- For the first time, nearly every voter in North Carolina will be required to have a photo ID to vote. Although, voters without a valid ID will not be turned away.
This new requirement will be active starting with municipal primary and general elections in 2023.
How voting in-person will work starting in 2023
State law now requires voters to have a photo ID to cast a ballot. However, voters without a valid ID will not be turned away and instead can fill out an ID Exception Form.
Ballots cast with a properly filled out ID Exception Form will be counted by the area board of elections as a provisional ballot.
Most voters will show their driver's license to vote, but there are many other acceptable forms of identification that can be used.
- North Carolina Driver's License
- U.S. Passport/U.S. Passport Card
- State ID ("non-operator ID"), from the NCDMV
- NC Voter Photo ID card, issued by a county board of elections
- College/university student ID approved by NCSBE
- Charter school employee ID approved by NCSBE
- State/local government employee ID approved by NCSBE
- Driver's license/non-driver ID from another state, D.C. or U.S. territory
For student and government IDs, the State Board of Elections approved a new list of acceptable IDs in July. The list includes all UNC System schools and many others. Only six institutions requested but failed to get approval for their IDs to count as voter IDs. The Board of Elections said those IDs did not have expiration dates and thus couldn't be used. Those six institutions can reapply for approval ahead of the 2024 elections.
Any North Carolina resident who is 17 years old or older can get a free non-driver's ID card from the DMV. You will need to to visit a DMV driver's license office with required documentation (One document verifying age and identity; a Social Security card or one document proving they have a Social Security number; for U.S. citizens, one document proving residency; for non-U.S. citizens, one document issued by the U.S. government indicating legal presence).
County board of elections can also now issue free printed acceptable forms of identification. No special documents will be needed to get these IDs. Voters will just need to provide their name, date of birth and the last four digits of their Social Security number. They will also have to submit to having their photo taken.
"Any voter who does not have an acceptable ID card for voting can now get a free ID from their county board of elections," said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. "State Board staff has worked diligently with the county boards of elections over the past couple of months to get the necessary software and hardware in place for ID printing."
Any registered voter may submit a mail-in absentee ballot in elections where absentee voting is permitted (absentee-by-mail voting is not permitted in some municipal elections).
You must request an absentee ballot before your election's deadline. You can make that request online or through the mail. Click here for details.
Voters casting their ballots as absentee by mail must include a photocopy of one of the acceptable IDs inside the "photo ID envelope" that will come with their ballot this year.
Absentee by mail voters may also cast a provisional ballot without including a form of identification if they fill out an ID Exception Form.
Photo ID is not required for military or overseas voters who vote using special absentee voting procedures protected by federal law.
Municipal elections are happening in 90 of North Carolina's 100 counties. Elections are scheduled for Sept. 12, Oct. 10, and Nov. 7 -- depending on where you live. Municipalities voting in central North Carolina all have their elections on Oct. 10 or Nov. 7, with the possible exception of primaries in Sanford. An interactive map of election dates by county can be found here.
Sept. 8: County Boards of Elections begin mailing absentee ballots for October municipal elections to eligible voters who submitted an absentee ballot request.
Sept. 15: Voter registration deadline for October municipal elections
Sept. 21: One-stop, in-person early voting begins for October municipal elections.
Oct. 3: Absentee ballot request deadline for October municipal elections
Oct. 6: County Boards of Elections begin mailing absentee ballots for November municipal elections to eligible voters who submitted an absentee ballot request.
Oct. 7: One-stop, in-person early voting ends for October municipal elections.
Oct. 10: Election Day in municipalities with October elections
Oct. 10: Absentee ballot return deadline for October municipal elections*
Oct. 13: Voter registration deadline for November municipal elections
Oct. 19: One-stop, in-person early voting begins for November municipal elections.
Oct. 31: Absentee ballot request deadline for November municipal elections
Nov. 4: One-stop, in-person early voting ends for November municipal elections.
Nov. 7: Election Day in municipalities with November elections
Nov. 7: Absentee ballot return deadline for November municipal elections*
*Absentee ballots received after 5 p.m. on Election Day may still be counted if they are postmarked on or before Election Day and are received no later than 5 p.m. on the Friday after the election.
How Voter ID became law in North Carolina
Requiring photo IDs for voters has been something Republicans in the state have wanted to do for years. In 2013, GOP legislatures passed new election rules, including voter ID. A federal court struck that law down, determining that it was unconstitutional because it unfairly targeted racial minorities and made it harder for them to vote.
The GOP tried again in 2018, this time putting voter ID on the ballot as a proposed constitutional amendment. The amendment passed by a count of 2,049,121 to 1,643,983. However, the law detailing how it would work was struck down by the North Carolina supreme court before it went into effect.
That ruling was made by a North Carolina Supreme Court that was made up of four Democrats and three Republicans. The ruling was split right down party lines. So when Republicans regained a majority on the court, they reexamined that ruling and overturned it.