Raleigh, N.C. — Some voters are getting mixed messages about voter ID rules when they receive registration information from their local county board of elections.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the state's 2013 law that required most voters to show photo identification at the polls. In a subsequent August order, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to put that 4th Circuit order on hold.
Q&A: Voting in election 2016 However, a concerned viewer sent WRAL News pictures of material that was part of a packet sent to a newly registered voter in Alamance County that touted the now defunct ID rules. The packet, postmarked Sept. 2, bears a large box with red type that says, "BEGINNING IN 2016, VOTERS WILL BE ASKED TO SHOW A PHOTO ID WHEN VOTING IN PERSON." The same card carries instructions for what voters who might not have appropriate IDs should do.
In a separate black and white alert box on a different portion of the material, it bears a conflicting message that reads, "ALERT: PHOTO ID NOT REQUIRED TO VOTE."
Alamance County Board of Elections director Kathy Holland explained that the materials, like new voter cards, are designed by the state and printed in advance by outside vendors.
"I'm not saying it's not confusing. It is," Holland said. "We're doing the best we can administratively."
Initially, she said, her county tried putting stickers over the red warning message, but the post office objected because it gummed up mail-sorting equipment.
Holland pointed to an email from Veronica Degraffenreid, election preparation and support manager for the State Board of Elections, that instructed local boards to include the small "PHOTO ID NOT REQUIRED" message on their materials until the state sends out a new template and new cards can be printed.
When asked, Degraffenreid said that a new template had been emailed to local boards on Aug. 18.
As it turned out, that email was captured in the spam folder of the Alamance County's email system, so officials there never saw it.
After speaking with WRAL News, Holland said her staff found the email in question and have since ordered new materials. However, she pointed out that there are a limited number of printers who do elections work, and Alamance County may have been stuck using the old materials even if new cards were ordered in late August.
"We just spoke to our printer, and they have only mailed the new cards to one county," Holland said, adding that other counties are also just beginning to place orders.
That means there will likely be more election mail delivered in the coming weeks that touts a voter ID requirement that's no longer in effect.
Staff for the State Board of Elections has been preparing for a marathon meeting regarding early voting sites Thursday, and neither the general counsel nor the executive director could be reached for comment late Wednesday evening.