ELIZABETHTOWN — For the first time in history, voters in Bladen County will have to show a proper form of ID before they will be allowed to vote this year, starting with the March 15 primary election.
Cynthia Shaw, Bladen County Board of Elections director, says the law came about in an effort to reduce fraud that has been rampant in other states in recent years.
“We’re just doing our job,” she said. “This has come down from the state. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened before now.
“I think everyone’s gotten the message that this is going to happen,” she added. “It’s like technology … it’s just something new.”
Acceptable forms of identification that will be accepted include:
— N.C. driver’s license, learner’s permit, or provisional license
— N.C. Identification Card for non-drivers
— U.S. passport
— U.S. military identification
— Veteran’s Affairs card
— Certain tribal idenfication cards, such as those from a federally or state recognized tribe
— An out-of-state license, as long as voter registration occurred within 90 days of the election
Unacceptable forms of photo identification include student ID’s and government-employee ID’s.
Shaw said she doesn’t anticipate any problems with the new law.
“You can’t do anything anymore without identification,” she said. “Most people have some form.”
Any registered voter who does not have a valid ID may apply for a free ID from the Division of Motor Vehicles, located on Gillespie Street in Elizabethtown. More information on the free ID can be found on the DMV’s website or by contacting the DMV.
According to the Bladen County Board of Elections, the N.C. identification card can be expired for four years. Additionally, according to voterID.nc.gov, voters over the age of 70 may present an expired identification, as long as the ID was unexpired on their 70th birthday. All other forms of ID must be unexpired.
Voters who are unable to obtain one of these forms of identification may still vote by showing that their lack of ID is due to a reasonable impediment, such at lost or stolen ID, lack of transportation, or illness, among other reasons. These voters should complete a Reasonable Impediment Declaration and provide another form of identification, such as current utility bill, paycheck, government check, or other government-issued document. The Reasonable Impediment Declaration can be found at the polling centers.
Voters without valid identification will cast a provisional ballot, which will be counted when their information is verified and they meet eligibility requirements.
Some people may be exempt from the requirement to show a photo ID. If a voter has a religious objection to being photographed, resides in a county that has been declared a natural disaster, or is voting curbside, a photo ID will not be required, but other forms of identification may be necessary.
Voters with questions can contact the N.C. State Board of Elections voter outreach team toll-free at 1-866-522-4723 or visit www.VoterID.nc.gov.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.