Beginning in 2016, North Carolina will require voters to show a photo identification (photo ID) when they present to vote in person. This change is a result of the Voter Information Verification Act or “VIVA.” (S.L. 2013-381). Until 2016, most voters will not be required to show any form of identification when they vote.
Help America Vote Act (HAVA)
Before 2016, there are certain voters who will be required to show some form of identification when they present to vote – either “in person” or when voting “by mail.” First-time voters, who at the time of their initial voter registration did not provide their North Carolina driver license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number, or who provided a number that could not be validated, will be required to show identification when they vote. This identification does not have to be a photo ID. The requirement for first-time voters to show identification is a requirement of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, a federal law not unique to North Carolina. Acceptable forms of HAVA ID include:
Acceptable HAVA ID
- A current and valid photo identification; or
- A copy of one of the following documents that show the name and address of the voter: a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document.
First-time voters who are required to show HAVA ID will have been notified of this requirement by their county board of elections. First-time voters who are required to show HAVA ID, but who do not bring an acceptable form of identification when they present to vote, will be offered the opportunity to vote a provisional ballot. The voter must then submit a copy of one of the acceptable forms of HAVA ID noted above to their county board of elections before the date set for the county canvass of the election in which they voted provisionally. The instructions provided to the provisional voter will explain the exact date and time by which the HAVA ID must be submitted. If the voter fails to provide the county board of elections with acceptable HAVA ID, the voter’s provisional ballot will not be counted.
Beginning in 2016, VIVA requires, with limited exceptions, that a voter show a photo ID when the voter presents in person to vote -- either on the day of a primary or election or during early voting (one-stop absentee voting). Acceptable forms of photo ID include:
Acceptable Photo ID Starting in 2016
- Unexpired North Carolina drivers license, including a learners’ permit or provisional license
- Unexpired North Carolina nonoperators identification card (DMV ID Card)
- Unexpired United States passport
- United States military identification card
- Veterans Identification Card
- Tribal enrollment card issued by a federally recognized tribe
Tribal enrollment card issued by tribe recognized by North Carolina
Out-of-state drivers license or nonoperators identification card (valid only if the person’s voter registration date in the county is within 90 days of the date of the election)
There are no photo ID requirements for persons who request and submit a by-mail absentee ballot; however, by-mail absentee voters will need to provide identification information on their absentee ballot request form beginning in 2014. The State Absentee Ballot Request Form will be available online and at county board of elections’ offices on January 1, 2014. The request form will require voters to provide one of the following: (1) their drivers license number, (2) the last four digits of their Social Security number; or (3) a copy of a HAVA ID.
For in-person voters, there are a few exceptions to the photo ID requirement:
- Age 70 and Older - Voters who are at least 70 years of age may show and expired photo ID as long as the ID did not expire before the voter’s 70th birthday. (For example, if an 80-year-old voter presents with a drivers license that expired when the voter was 75, then the expired drivers license is acceptable for purposes of voting; however, if the 80 year-old voter’s driver license expired when the voter was 65, then the expired license would not be acceptable for purposes of voting.)
- Religious Objection – If a voter has a sincerely held objection to being photographed, then the voter will not be required to show photo ID, but the voter will be required to show one of the acceptable forms of HAVA ID. In order to qualify for this exception, the voter will need to sign a declaration attesting to this religious objection before an election official prior to the date of the election. The religious objection declaration will be available at county boards of elections offices starting in 2014.
- Natural Disaster – A voter will not be required to show photo ID if the voter declares that he is a victim of a natural disaster occurring within 60 days of the election date. The voter must reside in a county that has officially been declared a natural disaster - either by the Governor of North Carolina or the President of the United States.
- Curbside Voters – Persons who travel to a voting place (either precinct or one-stop site), but because of age or physical disability are unable to enter the voting enclosure without physical assistance, will be allowed to vote from their vehicle. They may show either a photo ID or a HAVA ID.
Outreach and Education
The State Board of Elections and the county boards of elections will be actively engaged in assisting voters who do not possess acceptable photo ID. Part of our outreach efforts will involve helping these voters obtain a free nonoperators ID card issued by the North Carolina DMV. The no-cost ID program will begin in 2014. To apply for a DMV-issued ID, persons will need to provide the DMV with proof of age and identity, Social Security number, and residence. The chart below identifies the types of documents that the DMV will accept for these purposes.
Examples of Acceptable Documents (may not be exhaustive)
Age & Identity
Original Social Security Card
Motor Vehicle Driver’s Record
US Military ID
Certified Marriage Certificate
NC Limited Driving Privilege
Social Security Card
1099 Tax Form
W-2 Tax Form
Social Security Document reflecting the Social Security Number
Military Record reflecting the Social Security Number
Medicaid/Medicare Card reflecting the Social Security Number
Any document issued by this State or a county, city, or the federal government
NC Vehicle Registration Card or title
NC Voter Registration Card
Utility bill or cable bill
Housing lease or contract, mortgage statement, property or income tax statement
Preprinted financial statement;
NC Vehicle insurance policy
Letter from homeless shelter
Please visit the DMV's website for more information on the requirements for obtaining a nonoperators identification card.
Other Outreach Efforts
Beginning with the 2014 primary, county boards of elections will begin educating voters about the new photo ID requirements as voters present to vote during the early voting period or on the day of the primary or election. All voters will be asked whether they have acceptable photo ID and for those voters who indicate they do not have acceptable photo ID, the voter will be asked to sign an acknowledgement they do not have any form of photo ID that will be acceptable for purposes of voting. Voters may also complete an online survey to inform us that they do not have acceptable photo ID. Using these resources, the State Board of Elections and the county boards of elections will reach out to these voters to ensure they can obtain proper photo ID before 2016.