Obtaining A Voter ID Card Has Reached An All-Time Struggle
An out of state North Carolina State University student spent several days trying to obtain a voter ID card and was given the run around. The NC House Bill 589 is what kept the student from using his only available out of state ID from being valid. This could impact all out of state students in NC who want to vote in their new home.
“I’m sorry sir, unless you’re doing official business with us, you can’t receive a voter ID here,” a half-asleep DMV worker drawled from behind the front desk. “You have to get your voter ID at the Board of Elections, not here.”
And so I walked away, confused, unsure why the North Carolina’s Board of Elections website had told me I had to get my ID at the DMV, but the DMV had led me right back to the Board of Elections. I got on another bus, headed off to the Board of Elections and realized my journey to get an ID wouldn’t be as simple as I had originally hoped.
In 2013, the North Carolina Legislature passed House Bill 589, which required all voters in North Carolina to provide a federal or North Carolina issued ID to be able to vote. This meant that for out-of-state students such as myself, a different state’s driver’s license or a college ID, the only two forms of identification I have with me in North Carolina, simply wouldn’t cut it.
However, the bill provided an “easy” fix for those who didn’t have an ID. A free voter ID could be gained from any North Carolina DMV simply by showing two forms of identification and one form of residence.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation, which oversees the state’s DMVs, even released a statement saying that getting a voter ID “should be pretty simple.”
So, I set out to see just how simple gaining a voter ID really is.
In order to receive a voter ID in North Carolina, you are required to show two forms of verified ID. There is a long list of acceptable IDs, but, because my passport, social security card and birth certificate were all at my home, in safe keeping, five states away, I was left with only being able to use an out-of-state driver’s license and an official college transcript. The first ID resided in my wallet, but the official transcript I had to get from NC State.
So, off I headed to the Department of Registration and Records and, after a quick five-minute wait, I had an official transcript in hand. Time wise, gaining the second form of ID had been quite easy, but, unfortunately the transcript wasn’t free. It cost me $12 to get the stamped, official transcript the DMV required — suddenly, the free voter ID was no longer free.
Yet, nevertheless, I had my IDs in hand, and I set off to the DMV. For the next three hours, however, I ended up traversing buses around the city. I was turned down at the DMV and shipped off at the Wake County Board of Elections, but, at the Board of Elections, I was again turned down, told that I was in fact supposed to get my voter ID at the DMV. Armed with pamphlets from the Board of Elections that clearly specified the DMV had to provide me with an ID, I was ready to return to the DMV. Unfortunately, after spending three hours riding buses around Raleigh, the DMV had shut down for the night. So instead I returned back to campus. In a day where I had spent $12 and three hours trying to track down an ID, I had nothing to show for my work.