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Remember that voter photo ID constitutional amendment that voters supported without knowing exactly what it would entail? Then...

  • the NCGA passed the "implementing language" during a lame duck session in November before they lost their supermajority. It says the new voter photo ID law is supposed to be implemented before the 2019 municipal elections.
  • the NCGA realized student IDs wouldn't qualify.
  • Representative David Lewis said, "oh, we didn't mean to make it hard for students to vote (sic), we'll address that."
  • US Representative Walter Jones died, meaning there's a special election this year for NC-03 with an April 30 primary.
  • the NC Board of Elections called for a new election in NC-09 because of clear evidence of election fraud. That primary is May 9.
  • a judge ruled that the photo ID and tax cap constitutional amendments are unconstitutional because of gerrymandering.
  • that decision that was immediately appealed by the legislature.
  • none of the county election boards have received equipment to issue the voter photo IDs and the state election board has not adopted its rules for issuing them or rules for approval of student and employee identification cards
  • which are problems if some voters are expected to have them by the start of mail-in voting in the NC-03 primary which is THIS FRIDAY, March 15!

CONFUSED YET?

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This N&O article might help a bit: Does NC have voter ID?.

Action is needed, and it appears to be on its way this week, landing on Gov Cooper's desk by Thursday/today. SB 214, Ensure Orderly 2019 Elections uses many words to say that the photo ID requirement is postponed until 2020. It zipped through the Senate and House this week in what might be record time. Democrats tried to amend it to include also postponing this week's deadline for colleges to submit paperwork for approval of student IDs for voting; only a handful of schools have done it so far. The amendments were tabled, so most of the Dems voted against the bill.

The implications of not dealing with student IDs are big, as the photo ID law as written would prevent students from using their school IDs to vote in 2020 if this week's application deadline is missed. Republican leadership says the deadline is no big deal, and there's no hurry since the requirement is now postponed until 2020 anyway. WRAL reports that Senator Berger said "it would 'be inappropriate to get too deep into what we would do if the deadline passes' as Democrats sought assurances that college students wouldn't be punished if their campus misses the deadline." House Democratic leader Darren Johnson said he was confident the student ID issue would be worked out and students would be able to use their IDs to vote in 2020. I don't know about you, but this makes me very nervous!

Democratic Representative Ray Russell (one of the people we wrote postcards to support!) recently filed HB 167, which would extend the deadline for approval of forms of photo ID (including student, tribal & employee IDs) from March 15 to Sept 15. It's in the House Committee on Elections and Ethics Law. We need to contact our legislators to let them know that supporting student voting in 2020 is crucial, whether by passage of HB 167 or another route. Talking points are here.

Also happening this week, the March 15 deadline for submitting comments to the NC Board of Elections re: voter-friendly implementation rules! Democracy NC has a portal link and suggested comments that include:

  • Extension of the timeline for colleges/universities to submit letters affirming their student IDs will meet voter ID requirements
  • Passage of a law, written with input from school administrators and students, that makes it easier for student IDs to be used as voter IDs without creating a costly administrative burden for schools or students
  • Increased funding for county Boards of Election to ensure they have adequate resources to provide free IDs to those who need them
  • A rule change allowing county Boards of Election to issue temporary paper cards to voters, allowing permanent IDs to be mailed later.

If you or anyone you know lives in NC-03 or NC-09, here are special election calendars to share. Photo ID will NOT be needed for 2019 elections! However, the published early voting sites and times so far are quite limited, with no Saturday voting. Gerry Cohen has multiple tweets about this.

In the meantime, we continue to work to expand voter access!

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