Will you be able to vote without a photo ID this year?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Vote here sign

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Here's a question: Will you be able to vote without a photo ID in 2016?

The answer: Yes.

But (there's always a but) if you don't have an acceptable form of photo ID you'll need to be ready to prove who you are and swear to it if you can't.

It gets a little confusing so, right off the bat, the best advice is: bring photo identification if you have it (forms of ID that qualify include a driver's license, a passport, VA card or military ID, tribal enrollment card, or current, out-of-state driver's license/non-operator's ID). The state is pushing voters in that direction with ads like these:

Initially, the state's Republican-led legislature passed a sweeping set of elections laws, House Bill 589. It was said by some to be the most restrictive in the nation and many of the individual components are still being challenged in state and federal court. Changes include the shortening of early voting, the elimination of Sunday voting, and the elimination of high school early registration.

The posterchild of North Carolina's new election laws is "Voter ID." The legislature initially passed a law requiring every voter to have a photo ID at the polls with very few remedies for folks who showed up empty handed. That was challenged on a number of fronts, both in the judicial courts and the court of public opinion and, last July, weeks before the 2015 trial challenging H.B. 589, the legislature changed the voter ID component, watering it down to the point where now, just about any eligible voter will be able to vote without an ID if they need to.

"Since the start of this fight, we have maintained that the photo ID requirement is discriminatory and should not be implemented," said NC NAACP President Rev. Dr. William J. Barber. "The legislature and governor where forced to make changes to the original law - adding a broadly defined reasonable impediment declaration that should be deliberately applied in favor of the voter."

Under the modified ID requirement, voters who do not have one of the limited forms of accepted ID due to a "reasonable impediment" can sign a declaration confirming their identity.

A reasonable impediment to not having a photo ID could be family obligations, transportation problems, work schedule, illness or disability, etc. If you are unable to get a photo ID because of a reasonable impediment, you can still vote a provisional ballot.

Provisional ballots are usually counted after initial elections results are made public and can play a significant role in re-counts.

Voters must then:

1) Sign a declaration describing their impediment;

2) Provide their birthday and last four digits of their social security number, OR present their current voter registration card, OR provide a copy of an acceptable document bearing their name and address (such as a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government-issued document).

You can find a specific breakout of all the exceptions and other rules to follow at http://voterid.nc.gov/exceptions.html.

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