Raleigh, N.C. — After years of debate and lawsuits, showing photo identification at the polls is now a fact of life for North Carolina voters.
Early voting for the March 15 primary started Thursday across the state, and every voter is being asked for a photo ID, even if they've voted at the same precinct for years and the poll workers know them.
"The check-in official is going to be responsible for looking for reasonable resemblance, and the only thing they're looking at is the photo on the ID – does the photo reasonably resemble the person?" said Kim Strach, director of the State Board of Elections.
- North Carolina driver's license or learner's permit, either current or expired within four years
- Veteran's ID card or U.S. military ID
- Unexpired U.S. passport
- Tribal ID card
- State-issued ID
- Out-of-state driver's license (only for someone who registered within 90 days of the election)
Info on early voting, primary candidates If a voter forgets to bring an ID, he or she can cast a provisional ballot. For the vote to count, however, the person will need to show his or her ID at the county elections office afterward.
Last year, state lawmakers added an exemption to the law called "reasonable impediment." If someone cannot get an acceptable photo ID, he or she can sign a declaration explaining why, such as lack of proper documents, family obligations, transportation problems, work schedule, illness or disability.
Strach said people who declare a reasonable impediment will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot, and the vote will be counted as long as the excuse is factually true.
"If someone does put on the reasonable impediment that, 'I'm not doing this because I just don't like the law,' those kind of statements would not be able to be used for it to count," she said. "But if someone's giving a reason why they haven't been able to obtain a photo ID, it will not be questioned."
Early voting runs until March 12, although Orange County, Cumberland County and others don't have any sites open on Sunday. Unlike on Election Day, when people must vote at their own precinct, people are allowed to vote at any site in their county during early voting.
Also, same-day voter registration is available for during the early voting period. State lawmakers eliminated so-called "one-stop voting" three years ago, but a federal judge has put that move on hold until challenges to changes to North Carolina election laws are resolved in court.